Aesthetic Realism in the News
While growing up in Brooklyn, New York and later as I lived in Kentucky, Iowa, Oregon, and Florida, I hoped to love a woman. But, I didn't understand why every relation I had failed, even though sex had seemed to be successful. I didn't know that my idea of what would make me powerful, including in sex, stopped me from having the real, lasting love I wanted. Then I learned from Eli Siegel, and Aesthetic Realism, about the mistake I was making about power, love, and sex and was able to change! I'm very glad to tell of some of the greatly kind education I've gotten — the knowledge men have yearned for since they first walked on earth!
Power: the Ability to Affect and to Be Affected
In college, after baseball practice as we rode home on the subway, a teammate and I would have a contest to see how many girls we could affect by making eye contact with them. When either of us would get a girl to look at us, we'd laugh triumphantly. But by the time I got home I'd feel dull and would wonder why I was weary so often, even as I prided myself on being in top physical shape.
"The self", writes Mr. Siegel, "does not want to be strong by the weakness of others. It wants to be strong by what it is, rather than by what others are not." My life, I'm so happy to say, shows Mr. Siegel is right! When I learned that what I most wanted was to know and be affected by the world — the feelings of a person, words on a page, objects — and, to have a good, strengthening effect on people, I felt a new, larger power and excitement I hadn't even known existed! And a lifetime is not enough to express my gratitude, including for my marriage of 11 years to the woman I love, Maureen Butler.
Power and Sex
Said Mr. Siegel:
When I was attracted to a woman, I would imagine her melting in my arms, unable to restrain herself. I'd try to get her to notice me by using how I looked and my "unique personality." Then I'd look at her as if I had found my dream at last.
In a class Mr. Siegel asked me, "Which do you appeal to — the strength of women or their weakness?" I appealed to the weakness in a woman. I made her feel special, hoping she'd be in a tizzy about me. If she gave me her telephone number and we made a date, I'd praise myself thinking, "You've really got it, Ernie!" The demands of work and worry about money, the humdrum of everyday life, friends, my family, all seemed to fade into the background as I kept reliving in my mind the picture of her worshipping me. Who this woman was, I was not interested in. I didn't see women as real, as having feelings, hopes, mind.
Then on a date I'd often feel ill-at-ease; I'd feel I had to entertain her or console her, while underneath I felt annoyed that we had to talk at all. And if she was critical — for example, of my insensitivity to what she felt — I saw it as a misunderstanding on her part and would try to make her forget her "insecurities" — that is, shut her up — by taking her in my arms and trying to please her through touch. However, if there was sex, afterwards I'd often feel so ashamed and disgusted with myself that at times I did not want to get up to face the next day. "You wanted to please a woman," Mr. Siegel said, "but not for the purpose of respecting her more."
Sex: Power or Perception?
How wonderfully different I feel now with my wife Maureen! As our bodies are close, I want to think more deeply about her, understand what she feels and how she sees, to have my mind and hers be keener. I want to have good will which Aesthetic Realism describes as "the desire to have something else stronger and more beautiful for this desire makes oneself stronger and more beautiful." Mr. Siegel said:
Sex is what it was meant to be when a person feels about another: "You stand for a world I want to know and never stop knowing. Because I respect so much how you see the world, I see knowing you as deeply joined to my knowing the world itself. As my body meets yours, I am saying with tremendous tactual symbolism, I want my thought about you — about your thought, your feelings, your life — to be vivid and deep and full. As our bodies meet, I don't want you to feel I'm the most important thing in the world, I want you to feel the world — which I stand for — is your friend. I want you to know me, with fulness, as a means of knowing the world."
July 15, 1999
Ernest DeFilippis played baseball in the St. Louis Cardinals' organization. He is now an Aesthetic Realism consultant.
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