Statement by Jerry Amello, surfer, former student of Aesthetic Realism
I live in Mexico six months out of the year. I have recently returned to the United States to discover that Eli Siegel and Aesthetic Realism are under attack on the Internet. I studied Aesthetic Realism for six years from 1974 to 1980. I have firsthand knowledge that Eli Siegel represented everything good in this world and while Aesthetic Realism has not been part of my life for twenty-five years I feel it is necessary to say what I believe is true. People are lying!
When I began my study of Aesthetic Realism I had my questions about who I am, where I was going, and what really mattered to me. The thing that I loved most in this world, surfing, at times made no sense to me. I had an Aesthetic Realism lesson with Eli Siegel the last month of his life, at a time when he had great worry about himself. His generosity and good will for me and for so many others at that time showed his willingness to be useful—no matter what—to others. I watched him get stronger as this lesson continued. It was in this lesson on August 27, 1978 that Eli Siegel helped me understand my lifelong attraction to surfing. I had just told Mr. Siegel that I felt lonely much of the time.
Eli Siegel: Do you want to be lonely when you surf?
Jerry Amello: I have often.
Eli Siegel: Do you think that is one of the great lures in surfing? There's a way of
having people watch you and yet be alone? When people are lonely they are usually a little ashamed. Were you ashamed sometimes of depending too much on yourself?
Jerry Amello: Yes.
Mr. Siegel encouraged me to relate my passion for surfing to the rest of the world instead of using it against other things and people. He asked me: "Along with surfing, what else could you love?" and composed this couplet, which he wrote out and handed to me as a gift:
"He who loves the surf and the surf only
Is nothing but a serf."
Jerry Amello: I have felt that I was possessed by my desire to surf.
Eli Siegel: Once we like something, we want to do it forever. But anytime you diminish the world, you lose. You should write out a list of the deep things that you're affected by that you don't understand.
This has continued to have a good effect on my life.
The truth and honest benefit that could be obtained by seriously looking at what Eli Siegel formulated in the study of Aesthetic Realism cannot be denied.
Contrary to what is being said, there was no worshipping of Eli Siegel. He never asked for this. I respected his integrity, kindness and amazing scholarship. But that is far different from the mindless devotion that the people behind this website—anonymously I must say—insist Eli Siegel demanded. In fact, he had great humility. The one thing he discouraged and would not accept was flattery. Eli Siegel had a thirst for knowledge beyond what I have ever seen or experienced in any other person and his motives were pure. His sole interest was to have people understand themselves by seeing their deep, constant and ever-present relationship with the world. I could never be as content or comfortable in my own skin as I now am had I not studied Aesthetic Realism.
These people who are negative about Eli Siegel and Aesthetic Realism have nothing but ugly motives. Many of them are angry that they lost their power and position and are making these horrendous statements to get even. It is really pathetic. Disregard these people and use your own good sense and judgment. It is incredible to me that respecting a person and his knowledge and insight could bring others to such an ugly and hurtful place. This could deny someone who is truly looking for an answer that opportunity.
Eli Siegel saw something new. He stated: "All beauty is the making one of opposites and the making one of opposites is what we are going after in ourselves." If this one principle were carefully looked at, the world would be a different place. People would be less angry, greed would diminish, relationships would be stronger and that would only be just the beginning.