By Margot Carpenter
|In an Aesthetic Realism consultation, Emily Tyler described what many women feel:
What I learned from Aesthetic Realism, the philosophy founded by America's great poet and educator Eli Siegel, about love and sex, revolutionized my life and enabled me really to love another person—Aesthetic Realism consultant Robert Murphy, and to be very happily married.
In 1971, when I was in pain because love once again had failed, Eli Siegel wrote the following in an Aesthetic Realism class, articulating every woman's greatest hope: "Margot Carpenter's Most Important Question: How can I have love for a person, or love from a person, in such a way that I feel I see the world in the best way I can and myself in the best way I can?"
Right now a woman is weeping bitterly because, though she seemed to get a man's approval, she is furious with him, cursing herself, and can't understand why.
In his great lecture Aesthetic Realism and Love, Mr. Siegel explains:
Years later, with humor that was tremendously kind, Mr. Siegel said, "Miss Carpenter sees Mr. Carter a little like a pony on her ranch that she has to train."
When I began to study Aesthetic Realism, Eli Siegel, who understood humanity, with scientific logic and beautiful, critical kindness, understood me. In one class, he asked, "What makes us not like the way we see someone?"
"What he brings out of me?" I responded.
"Your motives," Mr. Siegel said. "Would you like somebody to be devoted to you and depend on you?"
"I would like that," I answered.
And he explained, "Do you feel not generous and caring enough?"
Mr. Siegel said: "If someone is devoted to us and we can give happiness to a person, we feel we're not as hard as we thought. This is a very deep matter." And he explained, "Aesthetic Realism says if you are close to a person, you should think more of yourself and the other person. Ecstasy should make one feel that one was good to oneself; otherwise rapture would be the same as self-disparagement .... Sex is a way of not being contracted. A woman can feel if she's liberal as to sex, she'll feel she's liberal with the world. But being liberal to the whole world is more ... comprehensive than that."
I learned that the purpose of loving a man, being in his arms, touching his body, is to like the world. My gratitude to Mr. Siegel for this and more is beyond measure.
When Robert Murphy and I began speaking deeply, I was amazed to find out how richly the world was in him. His pleasure in understanding and strengthening young men he teaches in Aesthetic Realism consultations, and his interests—from constructing a building, to Rembrandt and Dickens —stirred me profoundly. In knowing Robert, I feel the meaning of all people is closer to me. And as we kiss, I know he wants me to be kinder, more intelligent, not less; and I want my husband to like the whole world, not just me. And boy—does this make for self-respect!
Women and men are learning this now in consultations by telephone and in person at the not-for-profit Aesthetic Realism Foundation, (212) 777-4490, aestheticrealism.org and it is what everyone hopes to know!
—February 8, 2000