Dear Unknown Friends:
this issue we publish three of the statements presented on August 16 at
the Dedication of the Eli Siegel Memorial in Druid Hill Park, Baltimore,
Maryland. Mr. Siegel grew up in Baltimore. And that day, the hundredth
anniversary of his birth, was proclaimed "Eli Siegel Day" in Baltimore
by the cityís mayor, Martin OíMalley, and "Eli Siegel Day" in Maryland
by the stateís governor, Parris N. Glendening. The Governor wrote, in part:
... his contributions to world thought began with writings completed right
here in Maryland; and
The mayoral proclamation by Martin OíMalley
was published in its entirety in issue 1522 of this journal. And Congressman
Elijah E. Cummings entered the whole of that issue into the Congressional
Record as part of his Tribute to Eli Siegel. Congressman Cummings said,
WHEREAS, it is most
appropriate for ... the citizens of our State to join together as we celebrate
the centenary of Eli Siegel (1902-1978) ..., Maryland salutes the memory
and life achievements of Eli Siegel.
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to honor
a great Baltimorean poet, educator, and founder of Aesthetic Realism, Eli
Siegel .... His poetry and the education of Aesthetic Realism will be studied
in every English, literature, and art classroom across the nation for years
to come. [Congressional Record, 26 July 2002]
The August 16th dedicatory
celebration was sponsored by the Baltimore City Department of Recreation
and Parks, in partnership with the Aesthetic Realism Foundation. Memories
of Druid Hill Park, Mr. Siegel said, had to do with the beginning lines
of his great, award-winning poem "Hot Afternoons Have Been in Montana,"
and six lines of the poem, including those opening ones, appear on the
memorial plaque under a sculpted portrait of Mr. Siegel:
In Druid Hill Park
on August 16th, the speakers commented on the importance of Mr. Siegelís
thought for the fields of education, economics, and art; for the solution
to racism; for the understanding of love. It was clear to the more than
200 people attending, including government representatives, that something
joyfully and grandly historic was taking place. There is so much to be
said about the meaning of that event; but since my own Address as
Aesthetic Realism Chairman of Education is printed here, I shall let it represent
me for now and say more in future issues. These will include other statements
from the memorial celebration. Published in this issue too are Aesthetic
Realism consultants Margot Carpenter and Robert Murphy, about love; and
the statement by Chaim Koppelman, designer and sculptor of the memorial
plaque. He is one of the most distinguished and respected of American artists,
with work in such collections as those of the Museum of Modern Art, Metropolitan
Museum of Art, and the National Gallery. He began his study with Mr. Siegel
in 1940. It moves me very much to say that I think his sculpture of Eli
Siegel is beautiful, and that it conveys what the artist hoped: something
of who Eli Siegel truly was.
Quiet and green was the grass
of the field,
The sky was whole in brightness,
And O, a bird was flying, high, there
in the sky,
So gently, so carelessly and fairly.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . . .
There are millions of men in the world,
and each is one man,
Each is one man by himself, taking care
of himself all the time,
and changing other men and being
changed by them.
On Eli Siegel in Baltimore
By Ellen Reiss
Iím tremendously happy to join the people
of Baltimore in celebrating Eli Siegel, whom I love, with whom I studied
for many years, and whose understanding of humanity the world needs so
much. Iíll speak a little about his thought and writing in the years he
lived in this city. They contain the basis of the philosophy he would found
later, and stand for who he was.
as a young man in Baltimore, he wrote: "I felt that every person owed something
to every other person and, indeed, to every other thing[, that] ... the
need of every person [is] to be precise about what is not himself." The
constant, propelling desire in Mr. Siegel then and always was to know:
to see truly things, people, the world itself; to be exact about them.
In his 1923 essay "The Scientific Criticism," written in Baltimore, published
in the Modern Quarterly, he wrote: "Man should know that there are
no limits to his mind .... Only a part of him has been used .... Manís
mind was made to know everything." The sincerity of his desire to know
made him 1) the greatest of scholars; and 2) passionate that justice come
to people ó including economic justice.
To give just a
slight indication of his love of knowledge, I quote from a very early document,
written when he was in high school, at Baltimore City College. This is
from a letter to his friend A.D. Emmart. Eli Siegel, a month before his
16th birthday, writes about just having finished reading all the works
of Shakespeare. And then he writes:
At last! At last! Finally! Finally!
I have bought some books. Not a great deal of money expended, it is true,
but some. I donít have to get the best editions of the poets, deluxe, morocco,
illustrations .... In fact, I prefer old editions to new. The books I have
bought are an edition of Shakespeare and a Goldsmith. The sums that I paid
are very, very small. The Shakespeare is an old Globe of 1866, but good
enough to be read .... If I can ... get my share of shekels, Iíll buy an
eighteenth century edition ... and like Macaulay, make comments on the
margin. That is all of Utopia in this life that I want.
Years later, teaching
Aesthetic Realism, Mr. Siegel made knowledge ó literature, history, all
the arts and sciences ó warm and alive for people. More, I believe, than
anyone else who lived, he encouraged people, including me, to love knowledge.
In a 1944 article
in the Baltimore Sun, Donald Kirkley wrote this about Mr. Siegelís
purpose 20 years earlier:
He thought "all knowledge was
connected ó that geology was connected with music, and poetry with chemistry,
and history with sports." ... He wished to find ... some principle, unifying
all the various manifestations of reality.
Eli Siegel found that principle, and it is
the basis of Aesthetic Realism: "The world, art, and self explain each
other: each is the aesthetic oneness of opposites."
Now I read a short
poem he wrote here in Baltimore in 1922. Itís about the hope to know things
exactly ó which is what he means by the word "objectively." Itís called
"A Man in a Far Countree." Itís about him:
This says what Mr. Siegel taught and lived
always: that seeing things justly makes one happy.
There was a man in a far countree
And he saw things objectively.
And he was as merry as he could be,
Considering the state of this far countree.
While still a
young man, Eli Siegel expressed with logic and passion something itís urgent
for people to see now: that every person, past or present, is as real
as oneself is. In a 1923 Baltimore essay published in the Modern
Quarterly and titled "The Middle Ages, Say," he writes:
There were people who lived in
the Middle Ages and, who, so, suffered and enjoyed; the one difference
between us and them is that their pains and pleasures are over and ours
are not. These people are our fellowmen over the years.
He saw that all the cruelty in the world came
from personsí making others less real than themselves. He saw in Baltimore
what later he saw elsewhere ó that people were robbed of what they deserved,
because what should belong to all people was owned by just a few. He hated
this, and fought against it early and all his life with the greatest eloquence
and greatest feeling. I quote him at age 20; from the Modern Quarterly:
Mind needs nourishment, care and
training all by itself .... And ... millions and millions of people from
the beginning of the world ... have not got this mindís nourishment, care
and training. Their lives were forced to be led so, to get food enough
for their stomachs, was all that they could do .... Now if nobody made
the land, it is evident, to a really normal human, that everybody living
has a right to own it and should own it.
Iím going to read
now another poem, written in 1923, when he lived in this city. Itís called
"Trees in Rain." And it has in it something he would teach in Aesthetic
Realism: that each of us is related to the whole world; we have realityís
opposites. Therefore this is not a world we should try to get away from
or have contempt for. In this poem, the way a girl has gone from triumph
to feeling low is like the way trees can be: soaring, yet dripping in rain:
I love this poem.
The musical justice to the girl in it is a prelude to something new in
history: Mr. Siegelís deep, wide comprehension of a person in Aesthetic
Realism lessons. I am a person who was understood to my core, magnificently
by him. And now, in Aesthetic Realism consultations, because of the principles
he came to, this new understanding of people continues.
Trees in Rain
The sky is grey with mist;
Dark in mist is the sky;
Much rain has fallen,
And this is why
The leaves of the trees drip
Slowly and sadly.
And now a girl walks;
Her feet crashing against the wet grass;
And sheís in grief.
Love, love again.
Now it pains her;
And there was a time
When bright it was
Mark, mark the grey
Of the sky.
Mark, mark the way
The wet green of the leaves
Seems strangely sad
Now after rain has fallen
And the sky is grey and dark.
Beginning in Baltimore,
Mr. Siegel caused enormous love and respect in people. But he was also
met with anger, because he had so much knowledge and was completely honest.
People in established positions, and others, were furious they had so much
to learn from him and couldnít feel superior to him. Therefore this memorial
celebration stands for ethics and the future of America, because it says:
Weíre proud to respect whatís honest and great; weíre proud to honor Eli
Eli Siegel Explained Love
By Margot Carpenter & Robert Murphy
One of the greatest contributions to humanity
is Eli Siegelís understanding of love. What love is and why it fails have
eluded people for thousands of years, but no more! The purpose of love,
Mr. Siegel stated, is to like the world. Through loving another
person, we should care more for everything ó our families, justice, objects,
history, books, the feelings of people near and far. Weíve studied and
taught this principle for over thirty years, and seen, without exception,
it is true, and it meets peopleís hopes to love another and feel they deserve
to be loved.
Mr. Siegel showed
that love fails because we use a person to get away from and even despise
the world. Both of us once saw love as a haven from a dull, often cruel
world ó where we could be adored and superior to everyone. Then in Aesthetic
Realism classes, Mr. Siegel taught us that this contempt was the
cause of the fighting, sarcasm, and hopelessness we thought inevitable
in love. We heard beautiful questions. For instance, he asked me [Margot
Carpenter]: "Do you see a man as someone to know or to show off with?";
"What do you want to depend on ó who you are or how pleasing you can make
yourself?"; and "Do you want to manage a man or use him to see the whole
world better?" And Mr. Siegel asked me [Robert Murphy]: "Do you use a woman
to feel you have a victory over the world?"; "Do you believe you deserve
to have a woman like you?"
Love, Eli Siegel
taught us ó and people learn in consultations ó is good will: "the desire
to have [another person] stronger and more beautiful, for this desire makes
oneself stronger and more beautiful." Itís the oneness of approval and
criticism ó not unconditional approval. Because we love someone,
we want to see that person exactly, be intensely for the best thing in
them and against where they are unjust, so they can be "stronger and more
We love Eli Siegel
for his honesty, his courage, his immense knowledge and personal kindness,
which we saw firsthand and which shine through everything he wrote. He
brought sanity and dignity to love and showed its relation to all culture,
science, and art.
What I Wanted to Show
By Chaim Koppelman
I am tremendously moved and honored to
have designed and sculpted this memorial to Eli Siegel with whom I began
to study as a young artist in November 1940. I want this bronze, which
I first modeled in clay, to add to the true knowing and celebrating the
grandeur and depth of his mind and utter good will in how he saw all people,
My idea began
with a simple pencil sketch of a plaque mounted on a rock. I wanted a combination
of a sense of earth and the permanence of truth. I wanted the plaque to
have a classical shape, dignified and also warm, a rectangle with a curve
on top. I centered Mr. Siegelís head above his great lines from "Hot Afternoons."
On his right, I wanted, through the low relief of many figures, to give
a sense of the humanity he so magnificently understood and was fair to;
and on his left, to symbolize his unparalleled love of scholarship and
I looked at photographs
of Mr. Siegel, taken over the years, as I knew and remembered him. Modeling
his noble forehead, his face, sculpting his cheek, I wanted to get within
his deepest self, to show his honest eyes, his mouth, his ears, and have
him made tangible and lovingly real. As I sculpted Mr. Siegelís mouth,
I wanted his lips to show his honesty, sincerity, sweetness, charm, fierce
love of truth, humor, and that he had the same purpose talking to a child
and speaking on Kantís Critique of Pure Reason. It is a pleasure
with this memorial to join the people of the city of Baltimore in honoring
Eli Siegel, great poet, critic, and more than ever needed teacher of America
and the world.