Lectures by Eli Siegel, edited by Ellen Reiss and serialized weekly in The Right Aesthetic Realism to Be Known, have been published online as well as in print. Eight are presented here, with their original placement in issues of The Right Of. As you will see, as you follow links that lead from one issue to the next, The Right Of contains articles by persons studying Aesthetic Realism as well as Ms. Reiss's commentaries telling of the works in each issue.
Note: As you look at these lectures, you will be visiting the website of the Eli Siegel Collection where they reside. The Collection is the 25,000-volume library used by Mr. Siegel in the development of Aesthetic Realism. It includes world literature, philosophy, works on approaches to mind, poetry, history, art and literary criticism, labor and economics, the sciences. Its special collections include French, German, and Spanish literature; Early American History; 19th Century periodical literature; British and American poetry. Many books contain handwritten annotations, lecture notes, and original manuscripts of Mr. Siegel's poetry.
Poetry and Women in The Right of Aesthetic Realism to Be Known, no. 1525-1529
Writes Ellen Reiss in the Editor's Commentary: "We begin to serialize the historic lecture Poetry and Women, which Eli Siegel gave in 1949. So much in women’s lives has changed since then. Women now do just about everything men do. Yet though it is expected that girls play soccer, and female doctors and lawyers abound, and no one is surprised to see a woman wield a hammer, there is still a difference between woman and man. The question What is a woman? remains." Includes discussions of 16th-century poet Louise Labé, 17th-century Mary Chudleigh, Caroline Norton (1808-77), Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and Virginia Woolf
Selves Are in Economics in The Right of Aesthetic Realism to Be Known, no. 1511-1521
Writes Ellen Reiss in her Editor's Commentary to this issue of TRO: "Eli Siegel saw what other economists have not: the chief matter in economics is the human self in its fulness, the self of every person. Economics is connected to the same self in each of us that hopes, loves, is bewildered, wants to understand who we are..."
Educational Method Is Poetic in The Right of Aesthetic Realism to Be Known, no. 1448-1457
"I’ve called this talk 'Educational Method Is Poetic.' I use the word poetic carefully, and persons listening should judge whether that is a flamboyant title or is essentially true. The material for such a talk, of course, is all over the world...." — Eli Siegel
Aesthetic Realism and Nature in The Right of Aesthetic Realism to Be Known, no. 1417-1423
Ownership, Strikes, Unions in The Right of Aesthetic Realism to Be Known no. 1356-1366
Writes Ellen Reiss in her Editor's Commentary: Ownership, Strikes, Unions...is one of the "Goodbye Profit System" lectures--in which Mr. Siegel described, documented, and explained something enormous taking place in world economics and within people....By the spring of 1970...the profit system, a way of using human beings that had always been ugly, was now irrevocably crippled....And even more than in the1970s, there is an anger across America [now]...a fury in people about the way they are seen on the job: contemptuously, in terms of...profit.
Poetry and Keenness in The Right of Aesthetic Realism to Be Known no. 1314-1323
"Keenness is in poetry because it is one of the big things in life. A person has a cheek; a person has fingernails. There are points in our body, and wide surfaces and smooth surfaces. Keenness is the world coming to a point, the world being sharp. In keenness, aesthetically speaking, there are four things: cuttingness; piercingness; neatness; and depth. And keenness is a sign that there is an interior, a dimension." — Eli Siegel
Animate and Inanimate Are in Music and Conscience in TRO no. 1291-1301
"I found that the depths of Aesthetic Realism could be shown in a rather new way through music. And strangely enough, the most modern things in music, the most difficult things, are the most useful there. The fight between structure and emotion, between emotion and music almost as solid geometry, does go on. And there are terms that concern conscience—the earlier term polyphony, the new one polytonality, also atonality. And I hope to show that looking at these things is a way of seeing conscience too." — Eli Siegel
Poetry and History in TRO no. 1385-1393
From the editor's commentary by Ellen Reiss: Mr. Siegel wrote and lectured much on history. His scholarship in the field was immense. And--whether he was speaking about Wat Tyler or John Adams, the French Revolution or the Spanish Civil War--the events and the feelings of the time became real to those who heard him, as close to you as the very clothes you were wearing...[and] you had a sense always (it's in the lecture we're serializing) of largeness--you felt the bigness of reality....
4. Classes Taught by Ellen Reiss, Chairman of Education
The professional classes taught by Ellen Reiss are for persons teaching Aesthetic Realism and studying how to teach. See descriptions of these classes in:
The statement of Maureen Butler, which includes a class discussion with herself and Ms. Reiss. She explains: There are two distinct kinds of classes offered in the curriculum of the Aesthetic Realism Foundation." ...continue here.
Class discussion on Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. In the issue of TRO titled Nature, Romanticism, & Harry Potter, Ellen Reiss explained how Romanticism—the literary movement thought to have ended long ago—was, in fact, continuing today, and is instanced by the work of J.K. Rowling. Her class discussion of Harry Potter, the substance of which is in this TRO, represents the humanity and scholarship of all the classes she teaches. You can see this when you read this issue of The Right Of which begins:
I'll comment here on a work that...has been affecting men, women, and children throughout the English-speaking world. I refer to the first of the Harry Potter novels, by J.K. Rowling: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, originally published in England in 1997. What does its enormous popularity say about people and what they are looking for?
First of all, the importance of this novel, its goodness, and the enthusiasm about it are explained by the following principle, the basis of Aesthetic Realism: "All beauty is a making one of opposites, and the making one of opposites is what we are going after in ourselves." And the chief opposites that Ms. Rowling has made inseparable are the opposites that are central to romanticism, that new way of feeling and showing the world which began in Europe at the end of the 18th century: the opposites of the strange and the ordinary.
Class discussion about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's famous character, Sherlock Holmes. In a discussion of Conan Doyle's works, Ms. Reiss commented—with the human feeling which, as we are saying, she always has in her classes—on why the stories of the great detective are so alive today. In The Right Of we can see what was in this class when she writes, for example,
The first of the Sherlock Holmes stories, the novel A Study in Scarlet, appeared in 1887; and interest in them has not waned. They have been made into movies, both for big screen and television, and I’m sure will continue to be. A large reason is: Sherlock Holmes does ever so well with opposites that are central to all detective stories, the known and unknown.
These opposites are central in everyone’s life too, and very, very much can be said of them. There is a huge tendency in people to be afraid of the unknown... > Read more here
A class in which Ellen Reiss discussed the meaning of idioms. On her website, award-winning New York City teacher of English Leila Rosen, who has described her use of the Aesthetic Realism teaching method in The English Record and elsewhere, presents an account of a class taught by Ellen Reiss on a delightful and mysterious aspect of language: idioms. Under the title of "The World Is in Idioms: Report of an Aesthetic Realism Class Taught by Ellen Reiss" Ms. Rosen writes,
In Aesthetic Realism, Eli Siegel explained the central purpose of every person's life: to like the world on an aesthetic basis, as the oneness of opposites. This fact has in it the dignity of man, present in every activity of our lives, including the most ordinary. This is what consultants and associates had the privilege to study through a talk given by Chairman of Education Ellen Reiss in an Aesthetic Realism Class. Ms. Reiss began:
In thinking about how to study the Aesthetic Realism explanation of the self as the oneness of opposites, and the desire to like the world, I felt it would be valuable to look at an aspect of language, which comes from the self—the meaning of idioms. Every idiom was come to by people and says what the self is.
"Many idioms are metaphors," she continued, and gave this example:
“What does this say about the relation of the ethical world and the physical world?,” she asked John Bowman. “That the self wants to make a relation between them,” he said. “Do you think,” Ms. Reiss asked, “the human mind says there is a relation? There's some feeling that ethics is of the world itself.”
She explained, “Someone felt—the word ‘rascal’ won't do; ‘scoundrel’ won't do—no, it's ‘heel,’” which she said has a feeling of contempt and meanness in it. To show how, Ms. Reiss gave this example: “That heel—he made me think I meant something to him. He was just after those fancy dinners I bought him.” And pointing to the fact that the heel is low, she asked, “In any society, would a person ever see lowness as standing for great character of a very fine kind? It does seem that the world itself and how it's made has a relation to ethics.”... > Continue reading the entire discussion.
5. Criticism of Poetry
Aesthetic Realism explains both the beauty and usefulness of poetry and shows that what poetry is and the questions of life are inextricable. We see this in discussions by Eli Siegel and also Ellen Reiss, some brief, and others more extensive, that appear in The Right of Aesthetic Realism to Be Known. These discussions describe poetry technically; what makes for its music; how the lives of poets comment on matters that concern people most.
6. Scribner's Magazine Book Reviews
by Eli Siegel from 1931 to 1934 (Selected)