Statement by David Berger, Jazz Composer and Professor of Music
I just read three statements by former students of Aesthetic Realism that I found rather transparent in motive. Mr. Bluejay, Mr. Mali and Mr. (or Ms.) Anonymous all have two things in common: not only were they students of Aesthetic Realism, but their families and friends were as well. I’m no psychologist (and I don’t think one would have to be to understand what is at work here), but as I read these accounts, the references to family problems and how Aesthetic Realism caused the problems between members of family just didn’t ring true to me. And what’s with that Anonymous crap? Does anyone really take anyone named Anonymous seriously? Is that the best you guys can do? I should think that after all these years, if there were really something wrong about Aesthetic Realism, there would be a whole lot more people complaining—at least a few hundred. So OK, we’ve got 2 and someone who doesn’t even have a name.
Some years ago I was a student of Aesthetic Realism. I learned quite a lot at that time and still am affected by it. I have read several of Eli Siegel’s books and found them inspirational. My understanding of the world and especially music and my ability to articulate what I knew instinctively was greatly enhanced by this study. I am very grateful for the opportunity to have been shown this point of view. Not only has it helped me and my music but also the people who hear my music as well as my students. Once you see how opposites interact in the world, it is difficult and counterproductive to ignore this most basic of relationships.
As to Aesthetic Realism, I certainly did not feel any pressure to remain a student or agree with everything I heard. As a matter of fact, my lessons came to an end because my teachers (some of whom had doctorates, by the way—I was getting my masters at the time) did not want to interfere in my crumbling marriage. Fair enough; the last thing they wanted to do was interfere. They were teaching me philosophy.
I can understand that people may want to discontinue their study of Aesthetic Realism. Some people take music lessons and stop after a few years; others go on to get advanced degrees at conservatories. It’s a free country, after all. But to declare Aesthetic Realism a cult? Seems a bit extreme to me. I just know that this was not my experience. If you are looking to join a cult, you’ll find one. I didn’t.
All I can say is that I became a better person from the experience of studying Aesthetic Realism. I hope that these three people can get over their anger and move on to do something positive in their lives. Or not. It’s their choice.
In the meantime it seems incredible that anyone with any sense at all would take any of these complaints seriously. I know I don’t.
Forever onward and upward,