Statement by Haroldo Mauro Jr., Jazz Pianist and Composer, Full-time Professor at the University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
I recently read a few articles on the Internet referring to the philosophy Aesthetic Realism, founded by Eli Siegel, and its students as a “self-help group,” “mind-control cult,” “destructive mind-controlling group,” and with other misleading terms. I studied Eli Siegel’s philosophy for three consecutive years in classes and consultations at the Aesthetic Realism Foundation, while living in New York City, and I say from my experience: those descriptions are not true. What I’ve seen and learned enabled me to dedicate myself more earnestly and respectfully to my profession and to appreciate the world and people more than ever before.
As to the lie about “recruiting” and “shunning,” Prof. Mauro says: Michael Bluejay writes in his article: “they actively recruit new members” and “they shun former members.” First of all, it is impossible that there exist former Aesthetic Realism “members” because there has never been one, to begin with. The Aesthetic Realism Foundation provides education for whoever wants to study. There are no members, but only students and teachers. As I said, I did take courses at the Foundation, from 1986 to 1989. I was not “recruited.” When I learned the principles of this philosophy in music classes taught by composer Edward Green at the Manhattan School of Music, and saw them applied to music, I decided I wanted to study Aesthetic Realism, and I did.
I stopped having Aesthetic Realism classes and private consultations in 1989—and I never was “shunned.” I moved to Brazil in 1991. A couple of years ago I went to the Aesthetic Realism Foundation during a visit to New York City, and on meeting some people I knew, I was greeted very warmly.
As to the lie about “walking distance” and being “check[ed] on,” Prof. Mauro says: In another article, Adam Mali writes that “The members of the group live within walking distance of the headquarters,” and that “during work hours,...[they] ’check up’ on each other.” Again, from my own experience I can definitely say these statements are not true. I was never “check[ed] up” on by any student or teacher on the faculty of Aesthetic Realism—during work hours or any other time! I now live thousands of miles away from the Aesthetic Realism Foundation, but have had consultations over the phone and occasionally in person if I happen to be in New York.
As to the lie about higher education, Prof. Mauro writes: Mali also says he was discouraged from earning a college degree. I was a graduate student in music when I met Aesthetic Realism, and I got my Master of music degree while studying Aesthetic Realism in classes and consultations; I am now enrolled in a doctoral program in Brazil, and during all these phases of my life, including the current, I have only heard words of encouragement from friends I have who teach or take courses at the Aesthetic Realism Foundation.
As to the lie about “adoration” and “worship,” Prof. Mauro says: In a third article an anonymous writer criticizes people studying Aesthetic Realism for expressing their gratitude and respect for and their desire to be completely fair to its founder, Eli Siegel; he describes these as statements of “worship and adoration of Eli Siegel” on one hand and of “the relative insignificance of the author” on the other. It happens that Aesthetic Realism has been useful, very useful to people. It has been useful to me. It has enabled me to be a better musician, teacher and person as nothing else ever did. Other persons have stated that Aesthetic Realism has enabled them to have better lives. Eli Siegel deserves the just credit for this. I don’t see what is wrong with expressing gratitude to the person who made this possible. Not wanting to express it would be unfair.