Friends of Aesthetic Realism
       Countering the Lies
“It’s a lie, and not a well told one at that.
  It grins out like a copper dollar.”

                  —Abraham Lincoln

A Little Anthology of Comments (Some Funny We Hope) on Further Misrepresentations

Since we began our Countering the Lies website, one of the attackers has expanded his falsifications; he has even tried to present a false picture of what's on this website itself!

Here are a few short comments on some further misrepresentations. If we don't get around to all of them immediately, we'll have to be forgiven: they've gotten to be awfully plentiful.

•  A Public Service for Conceited Males

Just when we thought the lies on a certain website were so wearisomely foul that they were not worth responding to individually, there appeared something of such piquancy that we couldn’t resist commenting on it. This something constitutes what we consider a Public Service for Conceited Males: men who don’t want to believe a woman could possibly have any good reason for rejecting their companionship.

The website posts a statement it claims is from a man who met, via an Internet dating service, a woman who studies Aesthetic Realism. Even though, according to this man, the woman told him she didn’t want to have to do with him because she did not respect the business he was in, he knows better: he is sure it was really because she’d been trying to “recruit” him as to Aesthetic Realism and failed!

We think this reasoning is wonderful. It is a new version of what Jane Austen satirized in Pride and Prejudice: the obnoxious Mr. Collins simply did not believe that Elizabeth Bennet could find anything unattractive in him.

Herein lies the Public Service: Men, if a woman rejects you, if she has the nerve to act as though you are not God’s and reality’s gift to her, you now know how to come out with your ego unscathed—tell yourself and others that she was really trying to recruit you into a cult.

The rejected male gives the following evidence that he was being recruited: the lady invited him to attend a dramatic presentation at the Aesthetic Realism Foundation! We’re convinced. We don’t want to trifle with such tedious ideas as: Doesn’t a person have a right, if she cares for something and thinks it’s important, to have a person in whom she’s hoping to be interested meet it too? Doesn’t she have a right to see whether he wants to respect something she values?

So men, if a woman who loves art invites you to visit a museum with her, and may even be interested in whether you want to value the paintings--it’s obvious she’s up to no good. She’s trying to recruit you for her art cult.

We hope, then, we have given reasons why a website we otherwise deplore has performed a Public Service in this particular instance.

•  If You Don't Want Such Persons to Exist, They Don't; or, Solipsism on the Internet.

This attacker has stated in big bold type that the only persons talking in favor of Aesthetic Realism are those he calls "current members." Aside from the fact that there are no "members," it's very clear that among the writers on this Countering the Lies website are people who once studied Aesthetic Realism and stopped. They know Aesthetic Realism is not what the liars describe, and they say so. But the attacker doesn't want such people to exist, so he says they don't. Oh, well, what's a little thing like existence and non-existence anyway?

•  "When You Attack It, It Defends Itself!"

The same attacker complains that people are saying mean things about him on our website. As evidence he quotes from the statement of Marvin Mondlin. Of course, he does not mention that Mr. Mondlin is a "former student" of Mr. Siegel, someone who discontinued his study with Mr. Siegel. (Such people are not supposed to care for Aesthetic Realism, remember?) The attacker also doesn't mention that Mr. Mondlin is his (the attacker's) relative.

As to the comments the attacker complains about: There is an old French saying which, translated, goes, "That animal is very wicked: when you attack it, it defends itself!" ("Cet animal est très méchant: quand on l'attaque il se défend.") We think most people in America would feel that being called a cultist (and in abundant, made up detail) was an attack on them and was very mean. There is something to defend here.

As the British general said about the Americans during our Revolution: "They defended themselves—how ungentlemanly!"

•  On the Pleasures and Advantages of Anonymity: An Ode
  
By an Unnamed Person on an Anti-Aesthetic Realism Web Page

Isn't being Anonymous wonderful?
I can say anything ugly and dishonest I choose,
And I don't have to be responsible for it!
I revel in this.
I got myself on a web page denouncing Aesthetic Realism,
With a couple of other Anonymous people.
If I had to make my name public I wouldn't have the nerve
To tell the lies I do.
I have said things about Aesthetic Realism that would make your hair curl,
And about Eli Siegel and Ellen Reiss too.
Ha, ha! So what if they're not true!
Yeah, if I had to make my name public, I wouldn't have the nerve
To say the things I do.
For one thing, I would be open to question:
There would be the chance for people who know me to describe
Just why I'm twisting, distorting, out-and-out lying,
And I wouldn't want that—
Oh no, I wouldn't want that!
But if you're Anonymous and there's someone just panting
For the kind of fake stuff you can dish out
(Like that web page guy)
Then you're in luck. You can get your revenge.
And I do want revenge. Oh, do I, do I!
It's because I liked having contempt,
For people, facts, reality—
And Aesthetic Realism was against contempt.
Of course, I won't say that. I'll make it sound
Like people were somehow bludgeoned, and there was some narrow purpose.
I'll make it sound like there's something shady
When I know there isn't.
I'm mad as hell, can't you see?
But if I'm Anonymous
It's less likely people will find out
What I'm really mad about.
So isn't being Anonymous wonderful?
I can say any ugly and dishonest thing I choose.

•  "The Incredible Aesthetic Realism Deadlock; or, Only People Who Are Against It Are Entitled to Talk about Aesthetic Realism"

In the 1960s, Eli Siegel wrote a bulletin with the above title. Here is a new version, in keeping with present circumstances:

No person who has seen value in Aesthetic Realism should be believed. The moment you respect Aesthetic Realism, you are disqualified—even though you have tested it rigorously, compared it extensively to other knowledge, are respected yourself in your community and your work—even so, even so. Only people who 1) know very little about Aesthetic Realism, or 2) have some personal ax to grind, are entitled to be listened to.   Anyone who wants to defend Aesthetic Realism must be a cultist and can't be taken seriously. Therefore, as we said, only people who know little about Aesthetic Realism or who want to hurt it deserve to be seen as authorities on it.

•  Second Aesthetic Realism Deadlock

If someone studies Aesthetic Realism for many years—that shows it's a cult. If someone discontinues his or her study of Aesthetic Realism, that shows it's a cult. It's like art education: some people study art for many years, even all their lives; others study for a while, take some courses and stop. What a cult art education is!

•  A Little Comment on Defectors

If Americans have learned anything about defectors recently, it's that they perhaps should not be believed. That is so regardless of the goodness or badness of what they "defected" from. After all, it was defectors who told all those lies about weapons of mass destruction, lies then passed on to the American people. Of course, their massive, intricate, "authoritative" falsehoods were welcomed and even sought for by some US politicians—but the point is, the defectors were liars.

The most noted defector in American history was Benedict Arnold. He was a liar and presented himself as hurt. How mean the Continental Congress was to him! How mean George Washington was to him!

When we read ugly statements about Aesthetic Realism by people labeled "former," let us see them in their historical context.

•  On Racism

An attacker of Aesthetic Realism has reprinted on his web page an article from the Greenwich Village Gazette in which a person who calls himself Usavior writes angrily about the book Aesthetic Realism and the Answer to Racism, by Alice Bernstein and Others.   And in this instance we won't comment jocularly, because of the nature of the subject.   The article's main idea is that no white person has the right to present the explanation and solution to racism. Usavior writes, "The truth is that it is Black people who have the answer to racism. . . . It is arrogant for white people, such as the ones authoring this book, to even suggest that they have any such answers." And he says of the book, "I liken these writings to the early white abolitionists," with whom he is also very angry. (They would include such persons as William Lloyd Garrison, Wendell Phillips, Lucretia Mott, and John Brown.)

Mr. Usavior is certainly entitled to his statements. But our point is that the attacker who reprints the article on his web page is using this to present Aesthetic Realism as untrustworthy; he describes the article as follows, in bold type: "A civil rights activist slams AR's new book against racism, suggesting that AR is ‘pimping’ the struggle of black people." Can we not see a way of mind here?

•  Some Notes on the Effort to Make Trouble about Homosexuality

As AestheticRealism.org describes, "There are some individuals, on the Internet and elsewhere, who have tried to make it appear that the Aesthetic Realism Foundation is against gay people. Nothing is further from the truth. Aesthetic Realism sees every person as deserving entirely equal civil rights, whatever one's sexual preference. And it definitely does not regard homosexuality as either a sin or an illness. The following is a statement that has been read since 1990 to people contacting the Aesthetic Realism Foundation on this matter:

“It is a fact that men and women have changed from homosexuality through study of Aesthetic Realism. Meanwhile, as is well known, there is now intense anger in America on the subject of homosexuality and how it is seen. Since this subject is by no means central to Aesthetic Realism, and since the Aesthetic Realism Foundation has not wanted to be involved in that atmosphere of anger, in 1990 [nearly a quarter century ago] the Foundation discontinued its public presentation of the fact that through Aesthetic Realism people have changed from homosexuality; and consultations to change from homosexuality are not being given. That is because we do not want this matter, which is certainly not fundamental to Aesthetic Realism, to be used to obscure what Aesthetic Realism truly is: education of the largest, most cultural kind.

"Aesthetic Realism is for full, equal civil rights for everyone.”

A certain attacker keeps on insisting that Aesthetic Realism really does see homosexuality as a “mental illness” to “cure”—that Margot Carpenter’s assertion to the contrary on our website is just a cover-up. Despite this attacker’s desire to force his terminology on us, and to say we must be hiding something, these are the facts:

     1. There is a large difference between “cure” and “change.” It’s not a matter of semantics. It’s a matter of what the human self is. If a person wants to change something about himself, that’s not the same as saying he is mentally ill. If he changes deeply what he cares for in music, what he’s stirred by in art, that’s not the same as being “cured.”   The attacker can scream and insist and carry on all he wants: Aesthetic Realism never saw homosexuality as a “mental illness” or something to be “cured.”

     2. The attacker is just like various evangelical Christian fundamentalists or narrow moralists: he would like the Aesthetic Realism Foundation to call homosexuality a sin, or at least a sickness. Sorry. What the Friends of Aesthetic Realism won’t do for the right wing, it won’t do for him: that is not how Aesthetic Realism sees the matter.

     3. The Friends of Aesthetic Realism also will not comply with the attacker and say that no one really changed from homosexuality through study of Aesthetic Realism, and that Aesthetic Realism was wrong on the subject. Men and women have changed; the change is real, and full. The Aesthetic Realism Foundation was never in the business of saying people should change; but some persons wanted to change, and did.

     4. Whatever the attacker wants to do with it, however he wants to twist it or find “hidden meanings” in it, this has been the statement of the Aesthetic Realism Foundation on the subject for over 20 years.

     5. That statement is very clear and straightforward. It’s not an attempt to hide anything. There’s plenty of battling on the subject of homosexuality at this time. The Aesthetic Realism Foundation wants to stay out of it. If the attacker wishes to say that because the Foundation doesn’t want either to be used by the Christian right (with which it very much disagrees about homosexuality and so much more) or misseen by others, the Foundation is therefore trying to cover up in some way—well, let him say it, but it’s not true. The Foundation is not going to change its policy, expressed in the above statement, because he wants it to.

     6. In an essay in 1975, Eli Siegel wrote:

The main question is whether a homosexual individual likes himself for being that. If he does, the matter has come to a just and triumphant end. Every person has the right to do that of which he deeply approves.

If the attacker cannot or doesn’t want to place such a statement as this, that’s too bad, and it’s not the fault of the statement.

•  Anonymity and Mud: A Story on the Subject

Once upon a time there was a person who posted a statement on a web page, calling herself “Anonymous.”   She wrote:

“There is a guy named Mr. Langston who is respected by many people. But take it from me, he is really a well-poisoner and a wife-beater. Furthermore, when he isn’t poisoning wells and beating wives (he has 10!), he chops up little children and eats them for dinner. Frankly, the many people who say he’s intelligent and kind are either bamboozled by him or in league with him. Behind the scenes he also ransacks graves, burns down houses, and prints counterfeit 12-dollar bills. And believe me, I’m in a position to know.

"I have to write this anonymously, because if I gave my name, Langston would sling mud at me.”

And all the while, Mr. Langston has slung no mud at all.

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