Thursday, April 21, 2005

A note about a most important new way of seeing aesthetics

The Aesthetic Realism Foundation, listed in Aesthetics Online (see, is a not-for-profit educational foundation that is so innovative—so important to the advancement of aesthetics today—that I think everyone ought to know about it.

As I once wrote in my doctoral thesis (Columbia University, 1973)

“Eli Siegel sees aesthetics as more comprehensive than other authors. He defines it poetically in 'Free Poem on "The Siegel Theory of Opposites" in Relation to Aesthetics' this way:

Aesthetics is the science of what is,
When that which is, is seen as opposites—
In common language, when it's beautiful. (1958:51)”

The above page reference (1958:51) is to Hot Afternoons Have Been in Montana: Poems.

And so, the Aesthetic Realism approach enables aesthetics to be used, scientifically, to more deeply understand anthropology—which it has been my pleasure to pursue these 30 years (see A New Perspective for Anthropology). And if you visit the Terrain Gallery website (the Art Criticism and History page) you will see how Aesthetic Realism enables a critic to relate paintings, architecture, photography, to the very self of a person (see

One can only be deeply affected to read, for example, how the portrait of an American beauty, Madame Pierre Gautreau, is analyzed by an American woman today; how she describes the great dilemma of woman as to assertion and retreat-- and the solution to this dilemma in technical aesthetics. See SARGENT'S "MADAME X"; OR, ASSERTION AND RETREAT IN WOMAN by Lynette Abel.

For these reasons and much more – for the fact that aesthetics can now be respected as adding to one’s perception in everyday life, as one pours coffee or eats a croissant or bagel, or speaks to a loved one, or thinks about war and peace – it is of immediate importance that this new understanding of aesthetics be known.

I hope that whoever you are reading this, you will join me in this effort wholeheartedly.


Important Links to know about

Here is biographical information about Eli Siegel. An introduction to Aesthetic Realism is in his Preface to Self and World together with The Aesthetic Method in Self-Conflict. There are lectures by Eli Siegel online, as well as essays with his definitive scholarship in diverse fields. Also see his historic questions about the nature of beauty, "Is Beauty the Making One of Opposites?" Together with reviews of Eli Siegel's poetry and other works and reviews of newly published books he wrote for Scribner's Magazine in the 1930s, these provide a beginning point to know more.