From the Aesthetic Realism Foundation's Response to the Baltimore Jewish Times article, Aug. 27, 2003
Since one of the Internet attackers quotes repeatedly from an article published in a small weekly, the Baltimore Jewish Times, and provides a link to it, we have requested permission from the Aesthetic Realism Foundation to include portions of the Foundation's response to that article. The following are passages from the letter sent to the Baltimore Jewish Times by the Board of Directors of the Aesthetic Realism Foundation just after the article appeared. (The Baltimore Jewish Times did not print the Foundation's response.)
August 27, 2003
To the Publisher:
. . . Nearly a year ago, in a letter, you were apprised of the malicious intent of your “reporter” and various persons she quotes. That was after the reporter, M.G., first contacted the Aesthetic Realism Foundation. [Your] article is grossly irresponsible, is impelled by a reckless disregard for the truth, and damages reputations.
. . . The article consists overwhelmingly of statements bad-mouthing Aesthetic Realism. We'll say more later about the chief “detractors” Ms. G. quotes, and the fact that she gives a decidedly false impression as to who they are.
When Ms. G. quotes teachers and students of Aesthetic Realism, she does so in a way that deliberately misrepresents the person. There are the speakers at the Eli Siegel Centennial Celebration, sponsored by the Baltimore City Department of Parks and Recreation in conjunction with the Aesthetic Realism Foundation. Ms. G. grossly misquotes one speaker, putting into his mouth a denigrating description of Mr. Siegel he never uttered. For the others, she selects and strings together sentences so as to make the speaker sound as ridiculous and worshipful as possible. She purposely leaves out all the solid, clear, factual information in those short talks.
. . . [The] article is set up to make any statement by a person who respects Aesthetic Realism seem immediately invalid. Whether that person is a noted artist, a tough union leader, a scientist with a doctorate from a fine university, the article presents him or her as caught up in a cult without knowing it, unable to think independently and critically, and therefore anything the person says can't be taken seriously and must be untrue.
While abundant in citing statements from those “detractors,” Ms. G. completely omits any statement in praise of Mr. Siegel by notable persons in American culture. We shall quote some of them here. Most are very easy to find. Some were quoted by Mayor O'Malley in his Proclamation of Eli Siegel Day. Ms. G. really had to knock herself out to avoid them, and their utter omission from her article shows her malicious intent. It also shows the ill-intent of the Jewish Times itself, since its editors months ago were made aware of some of these statements in letters by Devorah Tarrow, Bruce Blaustein, and Edward Green. (Ms. Tarrow and Messrs. Blaustein and Green wrote to [editor] Phil Jacobs on August 28 and October 22, 2002, informing him of Ms. G.'s purposes.)
. . . Ms. G. obviously did not want readers to know of these statements and other greatly respectful statements about Eli Siegel, by people important in American thought. They would interfere with the picture she was trying to create. Her willful omission is a clear indication of her purpose.
The “Detractors”: Who They Really Are
We comment a little now on the “detractors” whom she prefers and quotes at length. And we note that the Baltimore Jewish Times was apprised of their malice and untruthfulness a year ago—in the letter from Devorah Tarrow and Bruce Blaustein of August 28, 2002.
There are four of these “detractors” cited in the article, people who once had to do with Aesthetic Realism. They are presented by Ms. G. as though they are independent of each other, somehow diversely representative American citizens. But actually the woman she calls “one former aesthetic realist . . . [who] chose not to be identified” is the mother of Adam Mali, the man whose fabrications are the centerpiece of the article. And Heide Krakauer, who also speaks vilely and abundantly, is her close friend. They are in a little cabal, and have been on a vendetta for some years to hurt Aesthetic Realism. We don't know who the fourth person is, but he too cloaks himself in anonymity.
Adam Mali's mother, who has gone by various names, including Ellen Mali, was for a time the executive director of the Aesthetic Realism Foundation. She became exceedingly angry when people objected to her increasing desire to turn the Aesthetic Realism Foundation into a personal fiefdom (many details can be given). More and more, neither she nor Adam Mali liked it that Aesthetic Realism is education, is cultural. They and some others wanted to water down its ethics and principles to suit and serve themselves, and were furious when they weren't permitted to.
The fairy tale about Adam Mali's not being allowed to go to college would be laughable if it weren't so vicious. Why do many other people go to college, flourish there, get graduate degrees, indeed teach in college, while studying Aesthetic Realism, when Adam Mali did not? And why did many do so at the very time he did not? It certainly wasn't the fault of Aesthetic Realism: nothing respects and encourages education more. In fact, there are persons who receive college credit for courses they take at the Aesthetic Realism Foundation. If Adam Mali's mother didn't want him to go to college, that's between the two of them and shouldn't be used to sully Aesthetic Realism.
We mention here a matter indicative of the character of Adam Mali—whom Ms. G. makes the hero of her piece and calls “a winner.” It is just one instance from a wealth of such instances. It is told of by one of the senders of this letter:
“When he was about 21 years old, he decided he wanted to learn how to play the flute. I, Barbara Allen, gave him perhaps six lessons. Then he stopped. Shortly after this, I saw in the Directory of Musicians Union Local 802 that Adam Mali had listed himself as both percussionist and flutist. I was shocked. I knew he could barely play a scale on the instrument. The man was a liar then, and he continues to be. When, at the time, I had occasion to talk to his mother, Ellen Mali, and asked her if she knew about this flagrant misrepresentation of his ability, she became angry with me for questioning her son.”
An obvious sign of Ms. G.'s ill intent is in the following fact: She describes Ellen Mali as lamenting “that her ex-husband, who is still active with the foundation, will not speak to her or his son.” Derek Mali, the adoptive father referred to, was a speaker at the centennial event in Baltimore. A short bio of him appears in the program for that event, where he is also listed as of the Eli Siegel Memorial Committee. He is an actor and Aesthetic Realism consultant. Ms. G. never even attempted to reach Derek Mali to ask him how he saw what this former wife said about him. She wanted the “detractors'” version, unquestioned. That was her intention and that was what she put forth.
Various people have fiercely resented Aesthetic Realism because it shows that the most hurtful thing in the human self is the desire for contempt, which Mr. Siegel defined as “the addition to self through the lessening of something else.” He showed that contempt is the source of all cruelty, from snobbishness to racism. And we consider his doing so one of the great gifts to humanity. In explaining what contempt is, in enabling it to be criticized, he has enabled people to be against what most interferes with their lives. And he has provided the means to counter injustice where it begins. (The meaning of this was spoken about vividly and with instances, at the centennial event—by persons of different backgrounds who showed how Aesthetic Realism has enabled prejudice and racism to end.) Meanwhile, people who love having contempt, who feel entitled to have it for everything, can be furious, even rabid, that Aesthetic Realism counters it so deeply. The “detractors” in Ms. G.'s article are such persons.
There is much, much more that could be said about them, and if necessary will be. But for now we do want to mention something about the statements of Heide Krakauer. She presents herself as being surrounded and stopped from visiting her parents—a ridiculous, nauseating picture she has manufactured. People who study Aesthetic Realism certainly are in relation to, and visit, parents and family members who don't study it; and Ms. G. knows that. In fact, Aesthetic Realism has enabled people to stop being angry at their parents, to be close to them at last. We are informed that last September 10, Aesthetic Realism consultant Bruce Blaustein sent [Baltimore Jewish Times editor] Phil Jacobs an article of his on the subject. In it, Mr. Blaustein's father is quoted, from a letter to Ellen Reiss: “Through Bruce's study of Aesthetic Realism, I have the son I always hoped to have. We have a friendship that we never could have had.”
We do not know if or why Heide Feller Krakauer did not visit her family. However, since she has the nerve to smear Aesthetic Realism in relation to her parents in the Jewish Times and make it seem that they were hurt, it is only fair to quote some of her own earlier published statements about them:
“My father, Guenter Feller, born in the 1920s in Germany , fought in Hitler's army. . . . He had been for Hitler.
. . . Most of my parents' friends were Germans, who, like us, came to America in the early 1950s. Their conversation was often about the war; but it was always about what they suffered. . . . My parents played records of Hitler's speeches in private, and said, “The only mistake Germany made was to lose the war.”
. . . Once, when I went out with a boy who was Jewish after [my father] told me not to, he moved all my clothes out onto the front porch, indicating I was no longer welcome in his house.”
Those sentences by Heide Feller Krakauer are from issues 431 and 493 of the periodical The Right of Aesthetic Realism to Be Known, of 1981 and 1982. And she describes there how Mr. Siegel encouraged and taught her how to be fair even to this father whom she said she was “afraid of” and saw as “the bane of my existence.” We quote only a very little of her description. The rest is accessible to anyone who wants to read it. Ms. Krakauer wrote:
“[Mr. Siegel] suggested . . . that I look at Macaulay's essay on Frederick the Great. I had to see my father in relation to the whole world in order to understand him and be just to him. . . . The kings of Prussia are part of German history and they are part of my father's history.
. . . I stopped being afraid of my father as I worked to understand him. For this I thank Eli Siegel very deeply. Because of him, I have been able to use my father to be kind.”
We will say simply here, if Heide Feller Krakauer wished to discontinue her study of Aesthetic Realism, she was certainly welcome to do so, as anyone is. But she has no right to be a falsifier.
Ms. G. presented these “detractors” as unquestionably legitimate. They, with their accusations, were not to be doubted. She gave them legitimacy because they met her hope: their ill-intent meshed with hers.
Another sign of that intent: While indicating that the judgment of anyone who studies Aesthetic Realism should be discredited, she also did not want to find out if there were persons who no longer study Aesthetic Realism but care for it, respect it enormously, and are grateful to it. There are, in fact, many such persons—who would see what those “detractors” say as loathsome fakery. But Ms. G. was not interested in presenting their view either. It didn't suit her intent.
She quotes various “cult awareness” advisors. One of those quoted says nothing about Aesthetic Realism at all, but is made to seem as though he does because of the way his statement is placed. Another says she is “reluctant to call it a cult.” We are not going to comment in toto on the persons who have made this field a career for themselves; the individuals, we're sure, are various. But it is a career, and some persons charge a good deal of money an hour to “counsel” people. They have a stake, including financial, in representing something as a cult rather than not. We know that at least one of the persons quoted in the article has presented Alcoholics Anonymous as a cult. No one, including Ms. G., should pretend that everyone in this field is simply out to perform a public service.
Furthermore, the situation in this field is one that can also be cleverly created. The “detractors,” out to hurt Aesthetic Realism, can get in touch with a “cult awareness” advisor and bad-mouth Aesthetic Realism to him. Then when a Ms. G. calls the “cult awareness” advisor to comment on the “detractors'” statements, he says, “Oh, yes, I've counseled people about Aesthetic Realism.” It can be a manufactured ill will circle.
There is much more to say about the ill intent, the disregard of truth in that piece the Jewish Times dishonored Judaism by printing. It has hurt every person who has read it, because it has lied to them. It has lied about a person who was honest and great, and a body of knowledge that is large, beautiful, true, and kind. The article is also damaging to people's reputations and means of livelihood, and every moment it remains on the web the damage increases. It should be removed from there immediately, and means must be found to redress this hideous wrong.
Board of Directors