Friends of Aesthetic Realism logo
“It's a lie, and not a well told one at that.
  It grins out like a copper dollar.”
                           
  —Abraham Lincoln     
 

The purpose of this website is to counter lies about Aesthetic Realism, which have been put forth on the Internet by a few individuals. As everyone knows, there's a great deal of lying, including in cyberspace, at the present time; and these are as deep-dyed falsehoods as we have seen anywhere. They've appeared chiefly on the web pages of two persons. They’re an attempt to tarnish and discredit the philosophy Aesthetic Realism, its founder, the great American poet and critic Eli Siegel, and every person who has shown respect for this knowledge and for him.

To learn what the wide, cultural, kind education of Aesthetic Realism is, and the many different ways it can be studied, visit the website of the Aesthetic Realism Foundation: AestheticRealism.org.

The method of those attacking it is to create lies so numerous and massive that a reader would feel, “There must be something to this.” It’s the “Big Lie” approach, which has been around often in history.

Most of that falsification is being purveyed on the web pages of a Michael Bluejay. He is someone who, on his personal website, has published naked pictures of himself—including photos of himself in full frontal nudity, and riding a tricycle naked. He also points as a source of pride to his having worn "a dress to a strip club" without having gotten "beat up."

Then there are the utterances of Adam Mali. For the last decade, he and his mother, Ellen Mali, have worked hard trying to hurt Aesthetic Realism and also trying to get others to join them. She was for a time a director of the Aesthetic Realism Foundation, but became exceedingly angry when people objected to her desire to turn this not-for-profit educational foundation into a personal fiefdom (many details can be given). Neither she nor her son liked it that Aesthetic Realism is large education—a philosophy that shows the relation of all the arts and sciences to the self of everyone: they wanted to water down its principles to suit themselves and change a cultural institution into something that would serve them. They were furious when they weren’t permitted to do so.

About the Writers on Our Website

The statements that will be appearing on this Friends of Aesthetic Realism website are by people who have looked closely at Aesthetic Realism. They live in different parts of America and the world. They are (for example) educators, parents, computer specialists, artists, doctors, musicians, architects, business persons, labor leaders.

The writers are in different relations to Aesthetic Realism: Some teach it or are studying to do so. Some have taken courses in the diverse curriculum offered at the Aesthetic Realism Foundation. Some attend public seminars and dramatic events at the Foundation occasionally; some often; some rarely. Some study in individual consultations, including by telephone from various parts of the country and abroad. Some studied Aesthetic Realism in the past.

We’ve started this website because, even though dishonesty on the internet is frequent, we hate the lies about Aesthetic Realism and Eli Siegel that have been put forth there. On the one hand, they’re so ridiculous they’re not worth commenting on at all. But on the other, we want to tell the true story. We want people to know what Aesthetic Realism really is and not be misled by an effort to hurt it, an effort by persons bent on revenge because they take the ethics of Aesthetic Realism as an affront to their egos.

  • Read statements by many individual men and women
  • Read reviews from the NY Times, Smithsonian, Saturday Review, Library Journal, Harlem Times, Popular Photography, and more
  •  The lie about how Aesthetic Realism sees homosexuality
  •  On the effort to make trouble about homosexuality
  •  A Note on Aesthetic Realism Consultations; or, More Weirdness from an Attacker of Aesthetic Realism
  • A letter by Ralph Hattersley, noted critic of photography ...not only counters the lies, but is a means of showing something of their history and motivation.
  • Read poetry by Eli Siegel so greatly respected by William Carlos Williams and many others
  • Read lectures by Eli Siegel on subjects as diverse as literature, love, & economics
  • About classes for Aesthetic Realism consultants and associates taught by Ellen Reiss
  • Poetic criticism by Eli Siegel and Ellen Reiss
  • Scribner's Magazine book reviews written by Eli Siegel

  • A Little Anthology of Comments (Some Funny We Hope) on Further Misrepresentations
         — including:
    bullet for Friends of Aesthetic Realism "If You Don't Want Such Persons to Exist, They Don't... "
    bullet for Friends of Aesthetic Realism "When You Attack It, It Defends Itself!"
    bullet for Friends of Aesthetic Realism "On the Pleasures and Advantages of Anonymity: An Ode"—which begins:
     
    Isn't being Anonymous
       wonderful?
    I can say anything ugly and
       dishonest I choose...
      >continued
    A Dramatic and Cautionary Tale about an Unknown and Very Unimportant Person
        "There once was a young man of ancient Greece named Milos. And Milos knew Socrates. He did not like Socrates..."continued
     

    The individual statements will say more, too, about the motives behind the lies. But for now we’ll quote this from the Aesthetic Realism Foundation’s website, because we agree with it:

    “In the history of thought it has repeatedly happened that knowledge which brings new justice, accuracy, and beauty to the world has been met, not only with gratitude and love, but also with the resentment and anger of narrow, conceited people. So it was with the great work of persons as different as Galileo and Keats, Spinoza and Martin Luther King, and yes, Darwin. And so it has been too in the history of Aesthetic Realism. . . . Aesthetic Realism makes for tremendous respect for the world and people, and therefore someone who feels entitled to have contempt for everything can become angry with it.

    “Meanwhile, history shows this about Galileo, Keats, Spinoza, King: as years passed, those who opposed and denigrated them came to be seen as disgraceful and ignorant. So it will be in relation to Darwin, who, amazingly, is still under attack; and in relation to Aesthetic Realism. Aesthetic Realism is safe in history.”

    The Liars’ Purpose and Technique

    The purpose of the liars is to stop people from wanting to learn about Aesthetic Realism—from attending, say, a dramatic presentation about Shakespeare’s Othello at the Aesthetic Realism Foundation, or a public seminar like the recent one titled “Classic Mistakes in Marriage & How Not to Make Them.” And their purpose is to have you feel that if you like Aesthetic Realism (as it is so beautifully easy to do), if you have a high opinion of it (as a person with a careful mind will), it’s because you’ve been somehow taken in. So they use the scare-word of our time: cult. Everybody knows that if you give people the idea something is a cult, they won’t come near it.

    The technique of the liars is: 1) they find out what characteristics a cult is supposed to have; 2) then they say Aesthetic Realism has them (though of course it doesn’t). Also, since there are so-called “cult experts” who have a stake, including financial, in the existence of cults—if you tell one of them that Aesthetic Realism has those characteristics, he’ll then tell you, anyone you send to him, anyone who asks him, including a press person, that Aesthetic Realism is a cult. This kind of fakery is called in journalism “circular sourcing.”

    The lies on the web pages referred to go all the way from the pip that somehow Aesthetic Realism is against higher education (despite the fact that persons with graduate degrees, and persons who attend college, and college teachers study it!); to the disinformation about Eli Siegel’s death; to a repulsively false picture of what it means to study Aesthetic Realism—with a wide array of fabrications in between. Before we comment on them, we're going to quote ten statements by some eminent people, where Eli Siegel and his work are described truly.

    A True Description

     1)   There is William Carlos Williams, one of America’s most famous poets, who wrote this about Eli Siegel’s poem “Hot Afternoons Have Been in Montana”:

    “I say definitely that that single poem, out of a thousand others written in the past quarter century, secures our place in the cultural world. . . . We are compelled to pursue his lead. Everything we most are compelled to do is in that one poem.”

          Williams says that the way of seeing in Mr. Siegel’s poems makes for

    “great pleasure to the beholder, a deeper taking of the breath, a feeling of cleanliness, which is the sign of the truly new. The other side of the picture is the extreme resentment that a fixed, sclerotic mind feels confronting this new.”

     2)   There is Kenneth Rexroth, who wrote, for instance, in the New York Times Book Review:

    “It’s about time Eli Siegel was moved up into the ranks of our acknowledged Leading Poets. . . . His translations of Baudelaire and his commentaries on them rank him with the most understanding of the Baudelaire critics in any language.”

     3)   There is Martin O’Malley, former Mayor of Baltimore, now Governor of Maryland, who wrote of Eli Siegel in 2002:

    “His scholarship and historic comprehension are in his books, . . . the classes he taught . . . , his thousands of lectures on the arts, sciences, and history. . . . This education he founded, enabling people to see the world and others with the respect and kindness they deserve, including people of different races and nationalities, is continued by . . . the faculty of the not-for-profit Aesthetic Realism Foundation.”

     4)   There is Selden Rodman, who wrote in the Saturday Review about Mr. Siegel:

    “He comes up with poems that say more (and more movingly) about here and now than any contemporary poems I have read.”

     5)   There is Hugh Kenner, who, in Poetry magazine, wrote that the literary criticism in Mr. Siegel’s book on Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw

    “reduces most previous discussion to willful evasiveness.”

     6)   And art historian Meyer Schapiro, who wrote:

    “I admire Eli Siegel as a true educator as well as a poet.”

     7)   And author Walter Leuba, who said so eloquently of Mr. Siegel as writer and person:

    “He travels into the common darknesses, where he sheds uncommon light.”

     8)   There is Donald Kirkley, writer for the Baltimore Sun, who knew Mr. Siegel as early as the 1920s. In this passage from a 1944 article, Kirkley is writing about Mr. Siegel at the time he won the Nation Poetry Prize, in 1925:

    “Baltimore friends close to him at the time will testify to a certain integrity and steadfastness of purpose that distinguished Mr. Siegel. . . . He refused to exploit a flood of publicity which was enough to float any man to financial comfort. . . . He took a job as a newspaper columnist at a respectable salary, and quit it when he found that he would not be allowed to say what he wanted at all times.”

     9)   There is Huntington Cairns, who was Secretary of the National Gallery, and said:

    “I believe that Eli Siegel was a genius. He did for aesthetics what Spinoza did for ethics.”

    10)  And there is Elijah E. Cummings, who is Immediate Past Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, and who, in his lengthy Congressional Tribute to Mr. Siegel, said:

    “Eli Siegel died in 1978, but his poetry and the education of Aesthetic Realism will be studied in every English, literature, and art classroom across the nation for years to come. . . . I am proud to offer this tribute.” [US Congressional Record, July 29, 2002]

       So we begin.

    Joseph Spetly, Richita Anderson, Arnold Perey, PhD, Nancy Huntting, Dan McClung, Pauline Meglino of the Steering Committee

    for Friends of Aesthetic Realism

    Also see the Aesthetic Realism Online Library  the Aesthetic Realism Foundation  Terrain Gallery  What scholars, writers, artists & teachers are saying  the Aesthetic Realism Theatre Company  & Links
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