|Title||Aesthetic Realism - Former Member's Statement about Aesthetic Realism|
Aesthetic Realism - Former Member's Statement about Aesthetic Realism Posted 12-16-00; former member has chosen to remain anonymous I am writing to share my views on the Aesthetic Realism of Eli Siegel.
It is not so much the philosophy itself that I find fault with; rather, it is the fact that they are a mind-control cult. I "studied" with these people for several years, and while I learned much that was useful, I was always wary of their worship and adoration of Eli Siegel (which Siegel himself demanded while he was alive). Siegel and his followers claim that Aesthetic Realism is so "beautiful" that one should "respect and be grateful to Eli Siegel and Aesthetic Realism without limit".
This is a dangerous concept, for it can mean anything they want it to, and can be used to justify anything in the name of "justice to Eli Siegel". The main purpose of this phrase is to get people to give up their individuality and devote themselves exclusively to the worship of Siegel. The members and "students" are all encouraged to speak and write in exactly the same way. If you read the various articles and testimonials on their website or in their publication ("TRO"), you will quickly see what I mean. They all sound as if they had been written by the same person. They all include statements of "profound respect", "deepest gratitude", etc. In effect, they are all testaments to the "greatness" of Siegel, and the relative insignificance of the author.
In addition, they try to instill a sense of "deep regret" (read: "guilt trip") in everyone because of the way they "met Aesthetic Realism". In other words, upon first learning about Aesthetic Realism, a person is supposed to instantly know that it is "true", "more beautiful than anything in the world", and be instantly "grateful without limit"; if one has any doubts, or simply doesn't understand something, then one is having "unjust contempt", and one must regret this for the rest of one's life in order to "be completely fair to Eli Siegel and Aesthetic Realism". Of course, this is just another mind-control technique.
I'm glad to say that I never bought into this, and refused to express feelings I did not have. They claim to be about ethics and not politics, but in fact they are rabid left-wing extremists, completely blinded to the injustices and human rights violations of communist (or other anti-American) dictatorships, but always eager to rail against the actions of our government. They are highly critical of the Vietnam War, the Gulf War, and the West's intervention in Kosovo, but have never once criticized the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the Tienanmen Square Massacre, or the murderous ethnic cleansing of Milosevic. They claim that Hussein's invasion of Kuwait was justified, because the world's resources should belong to all the people (I guess Saddam was going to share all the Kuwaiti oil with all of us, out of the goodness of his heart).
I was "studying" with them when communism collapsed in Europe; just a few months before that happened, they were writing in TRO about how happy the people of Eastern Europe were with their economic system. After these happy people overthrew their wonderful system, Aesthetic Realism never admitted they had been wrong. Then again, they never admit to being wrong about anything. I could write much more, but I think I've gotten my main points across. In conclusion, I would like to say that I think Siegel saw some things about human psychology that would be valuable additions to that field; however, by demanding to be worshipped and robbing people of their individuality, he only managed to render himself, and therefore his knowledge, highly suspect and ultimately useless.
He may well have started out with good intentions, but ended up just another egomaniac. We should welcome all contributions to the knowledge of mankind, but if we should worship anything, it is the Source of that knowledge, and not the people who are able to perceive certain bits of it. Siegel himself said that all men are equal; too bad he felt this didn't apply to him.
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