Siegel Explained Love
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!
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 beautiful."
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.
I Wanted to Show
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, including myself.
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 books.
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.
Lois Mason & Rosemary Plumstead
We have seen that
with a steadiness and beauty akin to the rising of the sun, the Aesthetic
Realism Teaching Method enables young people ó including the most disadvantaged
ó to LEARN! We teach students from the toughest areas
of New York City; students who are angry, jaded, have given up on themselves,
and mistakenly use the economic injustice, prejudice, and violence they
witness daily to feel, "I hate this world." They come to love learning
as they see what Eli Siegel was the first educator to explain: "The purpose
of education is to like the world through knowing it." They see that each
subject in the curriculum represents a world that can be honestly respected
because it has a logical, sensible structure of opposites ó the same opposites
that are in them.
As I [Rosemary Plumstead] teach a unit on the heart, for example, I show
that the valves in our heart are delicate AND strong
at once. As I [Lois Mason] teach US history, I show that Abraham Lincoln
put together mightily toughness AND gentleness. This
is how we want to be. Mr. Siegelís seeing that the opposites relate
world, art, and self has ended the agonizing rift in education between
fact and meaning! Students from city to suburbs learn successfully, remember
facts, and not only pass their required exams, but are kinder!
And as they see what Mr. Siegel explained, that contempt is the
cause of every instance of brutality between people ó slavery, the Holocaust,
the horror of 9/11 ó and that the same contempt is in them, they donít
want to have it. The Aesthetic Realism Teaching Method brings out studentsí
true intelligence and their finest ethical sense. That is why we believe
that Eli Siegel is the greatest educator ever to live and the Aesthetic
Realism Teaching Method is the birthright of every student and teacher.
of Arnold Perey, PhD
For centuries there
have been people of science and thought who wrote against racism. As an
anthropologist I have read many, including the great Montesquieu. But no
one understood the CAUSE of that vicious thing ó until
Eli Siegel did. He himself was completely without prejudice. And, as I
know personally and professionally, the education he founded enables racism
within a person to end!
He explained that prejudice and racism ó responsible for such horrors ó
donít begin with an attitude to people of different skin color. They begin
with the ordinary contempt people have day by day for what is different
from oneself: the
"disposition in every person to think he will be for
himself by making less of the outside world."
From the first class I attended with him, Eli Siegel taught me what no
professor ever had, or could. Looking at me with the kindest, keenest eyes
I had ever seen, he asked, "Are you more interested in being better than
other people or as good as you can be?" And he was to ask if I felt superior
to the people I had lived with and studied in New Guinea. Yes, I had.
I had often criticized racism in others. But for all my study of culture
in Africa, the Amazon, India, the Pacific ó like so many other social scientists
who saw themselves as liberal ó I myself still had prejudices and scorn
that no university education ever took away. Mr. Siegel taught me their
cause: he wrote, "As soon as we see that other human beings are placed
differently from ourselves, contempt does what it can to include them."
I have studied hundreds of cultures, and in every one I have seen how contempt
has impelled people without their being able to identify it or combat it.
And when a personís contempt is criticized ó as the philosophy Eli Siegel
founded makes possible ó prejudice ends.
Mr. Siegel taught me to see how people of skin tones different from mine
have the same feelings I do and deserve the same respect and dignity. He
was great. And part of his greatness was to enable racism to change from
inside out: in the human heart and mind.
of Monique Michael
I was born in Port-au-Prince,
Haiti. I am of both African and European ancestry. In Aesthetic Realism
and in Eli Siegel I found the knowledge and the person who understood the
cause of all racial prejudice and were completely against it. I also met
the education that made sense of and ended the painful confusion I felt
about my mixed ancestry. As Dr. Perey said, Mr. Siegel identified the seed
of all prejudice as contempt.
My family moved to America in the early 1960s into an all white neighborhood,
where we were seen with suspicion because we looked different. While this
prejudice had a bad effect on us, I did not know that the scornful way
myself saw people who were different from me was also unjust and hurt me
Early in my life I got the message that being white was far superior to
being black. For instance, I was told that I should not marry a black man
because we had to become lighter rather than darker as the generations
went on. For most of my life I felt I was better than anyone who was darker
skinned and poorer than my family.
When I learned from Aesthetic Realism what Mr. Siegel showed about contempt,
I felt deeply understood and so relieved. It explained the prejudice I
had been met with and also my own injustice. I saw that it was my desire
to look down on people that made me nervous around them. It also made me
unable to value my African ancestry. In The Right of Aesthetic Realism
to Be Known, Ellen Reiss writes:
to end, ... what is necessary is the seeing and feeling that the relation
of sameness and difference between ourselves and [another] person is beautiful.
People need to feel ... that difference of race is like the difference
to be found in music: two notes are different, but they ... complete each
other; each needs the other to be expressed richly, to be fully itself.
As I saw that I am related to all people, that we are the same and different,
I began to be proud of being both African and European ó and to think about
all people justly.
Eli Siegelís understanding of the cause of racism is one of his many great
contributions to humanity. When studied worldwide ó and my life is evidence
for this ó it will make honest kindness and respect alive in the hearts
and minds of all people, and will make the world safe and civilized.
of Allan Michael
It is hard to be
black in this country and feel that justice is going to come your way,
because black people have endured horrific injustice for years, from slavery
to racial profiling. This has made for tremendous anger in our nation.
For example, I was angry and humiliated being stopped on Route 80 by a
state trooper for no apparent reason, as my private belongings were systematically
strewn out on the roadside.
I join my wife, Monique, and fellow speakers in saying I know that Aesthetic
Realism is the means to end racism. In fact, the Aesthetic Realism education
is living proof that through what Mr. Siegel explained, people of one background
not only can be fair to others, but can understand them. It was through
the thought of Eli Siegel, a white man, that I was able to understand the
deepest things in myself; and this points to a fundamental hope for all
In beautiful prose, Mr. Siegel stated:
be found that black and white man have the same goodnesses, the same temptations,
and can be criticized in the same way. The skin may be different, but the
aorta is quite the same.
Humanity will thank
him as I do for teaching in Aesthetic Realism how all people can honestly
see each other with depth, kindness, and respect.
of Jaime Torres, DPM
When I came to New
York from Puerto Rico to study at Fordham University in the 1970s, I was
outraged by the daily discrimination blacks and Puerto Ricans endured.
I was denied housing, told I was admitted to college because of a quota,
and discriminated against because of my accent. But my sense of outrage
was not enough to change my own prejudice and how I saw other people, whom
I often judged by their skin tone, the texture of their hair, and how little
or much money they had. Contemptuously, I gave myself the right to see
anyone as I pleased, but also felt disgusted and painfully lonely.
Today I stand here as a person representing millions of Hispanics, saying,
Eli Siegel, for understanding that the fundamental cause of prejudice and
racism is the human desire for contempt.
Contempt, I learned, is behind every act of discrimination ó from the way
I refused to join clubs in college that had African-Americans and New York-born
Puerto Ricans, to the horrors of lynching, the beatings, racial profiling.
I thank God I met the kind thought of Eli Siegel in Aesthetic Realism consultations
and heard criticism of my contempt that changed my prejudice. I learned
that trying to know and be fair to someone different from me is the same
as my self-expression, pleasure, and pride. It is an emergency in this
country that we like the way we see other people. Tolerance by itself will
never do, because it doesnít satisfy what every person wants most: to feel
that through whatever and whomever we meet, we can like the world and ourselves
Teamsters Local 1205
many workers and studied labor history, I have seen that Eli Siegel understood
what other economists and historians have not. He explained that the central
matter in economics is ETHICAL: the fight throughout
history is not the class struggle; itís the fight between respect for people
and contempt for people.
Mr. Siegel showed that the desire for contempt ó to make oneself more by
lessening someone else ó is the only reason why there is poverty in this
world. Contempt is what has a person see another in terms of money for
oneself ó not in terms of who that other person is and what he or she deserves.
Iíve seen many people who were maimed or diseased because of the contempt
which Mr. Siegel showed is at the basis of profit economics. I know men
whose fingers were severed on table saws because the boss didnít want the
flow of profit slowed down by safety mechanisms. I know workers whose lungs
are damaged from years of inhaling dust because employers didnít want to
lose profit by remedying the hazardous conditions. Mr. Siegel was clear
early, here in Baltimore, and all his life: jobs should be for usefulness,
not for profit.
In many lectures he gave, he showed that unions have been one of the biggest
opponents to contempt and forces for respect in world history, because
unions have insisted, with power and often beautiful rudeness: These are
not mechanisms for someoneís profit! A statement I love and believe needs
to be known by everyone is this, from a 1970 lecture by Mr. Siegel:
important thing in industry is the person who does the industry, which
is the worker. That ... can never change. Labor is the only source of wealth.
There is no other source, except land, the raw material .... Every bit
of capital that exists was made by labor, just as everything that is consumed
In that year, 1970, Mr. Siegel explained that we have reached a point in
history at which economics based on using people contemptuously, for profit,
no longer works. Good will has to be the basis of production and distribution
for our economy to be efficient and kind. A poem he wrote here in Baltimore
when he was 20 years old has in it his tremendous feeling for people, and
his hatred for a way of economics that has crippled their lives. He uses
the phrase "stupid masses" ironically. Maybe he saw a little girl like
the one he tells about, in this park:
Because of Mr. Siegelís conviction and clarity about justice, people come
to feel that being just to others is the same thing as having a great time
and taking care of yourself! Iíve seen thisóand itís the most hopeful news
in the world.
A little child of
Innocent as little
Though very poor,
she has no fears
Now that she may
Just as far
As any other child.
Sheís very mild
About her woe,
Among the "stupid
This one of millions,
Poor dirty lasses;
May strike as a
Working where cigars
May lose in the
strike and be fired,
May of hard work
be very tired,
May even for her
body be desired,
May live unhappily
And not so very
and Our Lives
Eli Siegel explained
the true meaning of art for our lives, and I am proud today to say only
a small part of what that is. He said this: "All beauty is a making
one of opposites, and the making one of opposites is what we are going
after in ourselves." No one ó no scholar, no artist, no person ó in
all the centuries ever saw this before: that we can learn about ourselves
from the very technique of art!
The opposites are around us and in us now. Take one tree: it is firm and
its limbs are flexible; it is rooted, attached securely to the earth, and
those delicate leaves sway in the wind. That is how a person wants to be:
feet on the ground, firm and flexible, secure and happily responding to
whatís not us. We want the many aspects of ourselves to go together the
way many branches of a tree are so gracefully one tree. These opposites
ó firmness and flexibility, oneness and manyness ó are together in all
One of the worst things that people, including artists, have done is separate
art from life. Art is seen as a superior make-believe world used to get
away from the real world of family, worries, the worldís turmoil, our miseries.
Eli Siegel described that mistake and opposed it with the bravest constancy.
He showed that far from being in a separate world, art has the answer to
the trouble in this one.
In an Aesthetic Realism lesson I attended as a young artist, at a time
I saw myself as very separate from most people, Mr. Siegel asked me: "Are
you unique and related?" I felt a great relief seeing that I was.
And I learned that is the purpose of every line in a painting: it separates
at once. Each apple in a Cézanne still life has a boundary, is unique,
separate, and yet is joined with, related to, enhanced by every other red
and yellow and green apple on that white tablecloth. We need to feel weíre
more ourselves, more individual, through seeing and liking our relation
to other people, both near and far. That, Eli Siegel taught me, is the
message of all art ó and every person, every family, every nation needs
to hear that message and learn from it.
Iím very glad to read a short poem by Mr. Siegel that I love, titled "This
|What is art for?
To like the world
To like ourselves
To like time more.