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Being a Description of the World

By Eli Siegel


Reality is all that which can affect one.

       As soon as one is alive, and anywhere or in any time, one is up against, surrounded by, possessed of reality. Reality is all that which all things have in common and all the time. It is under our finger tips, and where no bird has flown, explorer has gone, or astronomer definitely peered at or into.

       I have said that reality is all that which affects one. This means that as soon as one meets reality, one is changed. A person will say, "I can think about it, but I won't let it affect me." This is fallacious; for just by thinking about something or even wanting to think about it, the person has been affected by that thing.

       If a person spent the rest of his life just thinking about things, he would still be being affected by reality. All these things would be real. And all things can affect everybody.

       The greatest danger in psychiatry, or in any other science, is that reality be made less than it is. Making reality less than it is, is making it worse than it is. The tendency to make reality less, to divide it deleteriously, is more common than the tendency to colds. Learned persons, members of erudite societies, and harassed persons who haven't gone beyond the sixth grade in elementary school, are given to making reality less and dividing it in hurtful ways.

       All the definitions following will be about reality, too; so I'm not through with this one.


© 1945 by Eli Siegel

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