Statement by Margot Carpenter, Aesthetic Realism Consultant and Poet
I have a great deal to say concerning the whole hoard of lies about Aesthetic Realism, propagated by a few people. But for now I want to address one particular, huge invention: the lie about how Aesthetic Realism sees homosexuality. I’ll comment first in my capacity as Executive Director of the Aesthetic Realism Foundation, and then more personally.
Michael Bluejay writes: “AR says that homosexuality is a mental illness” and “AR professed to have the ‘cure’ for homosexuality.” This is completely untrue. Aesthetic Realism most certainly does not consider homosexuality a mental illness; in fact, Eli Siegel always objected to homosexuality’s being seen that way. Similarly, Aesthetic Realism never saw homosexuality as something to “cure,” and—whether through Mr. Siegel or any Aesthetic Realism consultant, whether in writing or in speech—Aesthetic Realism never presented itself as having a “cure.” Not only does Bluejay misrepresent Aesthetic Realism on the subject, but he actually puts the word “cure” in quotation marks to make readers think he’s directly quoting some statement of Aesthetic Realism, when he is not.
Then Bluejay says, about “positions” he has made up: “AR no longer takes these positions publicly—a wise move for them considering the increasing acceptance of homosexuality in society.” He wants people to think that there is something hidden going on. So for the record, I quote the following statement by the Aesthetic Realism Foundation; it is what anybody inquiring about this matter has been told since 1990, and people have found it very clear:
“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 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.”
In his next sentence, Bluejay extends his misrepresentation (and I’m not even discussing the fact that he uses the completely inaccurate yet charged word “members”). He says: “One supposes that long-term AR members who were around when this was a hot AR topic in the 70’s still retain this antigay prejudice privately even if it’s not part of their current literature.” First he makes up an “antigay prejudice” and then “supposes” that it’s still hiddenly “retain[ed]”—even though it never existed in the first place. This is a lie Adam Mali also has tried to work.
Now I’ll comment on this lie about “antigay prejudice” simply as a person. In the process, I can’t help also refuting the lie that you can’t take vacations and the lie that Aesthetic Realism breaks up the family:
Just last year, my husband, Robert Murphy, and I flew thousands of miles to celebrate my sister’s life on her 50th birthday and to visit with her and her partner, who happens to be another woman. We had an exciting and rewarding time, which all of us hold very dear and continue to talk about. They and their young daughter are welcome in our home any time.
Politically and otherwise, I myself have always supported gay rights. That’s because, as a result of my Aesthetic Realism education, I’m for justice to everyone.
Aesthetic Realism is, in fact, the education which can really change the prejudice and racism still rampant in America. Studying with him, I saw firsthand that Eli Siegel himself didn’t have a jot of prejudice as to race, religion, gender, economic position, sexual orientation, age, educational background, etc.—as anyone reading his written work will clearly see, including “The Equality of Man,” published in 1923 in the Modern Quarterly. [The Modern Quarterly Beginnings of Aesthetic Realism, Definition Press, 1997]
As a Southerner who was ashamed for years of how I saw people, my own prejudice towards human beings with a skin color or religion different from my own changed profoundly as I studied Aesthetic Realism. I now have a passion for every person’s getting the understanding, economic justice, and respect all people deserve. What do I feel about the cause of such a pride-giving change?—enormous gratitude to Eli Siegel and my Aesthetic Realism education.
I can’t conclude without commenting on the lies by Bluejay and Mali, and “Anonymous” that “Aesthetic Realism is a cult” and “Eli Siegel wanted to be worshipped.”
Aesthetic Realism is education, scholarly and solid. And Mr. Siegel was true to its principles and had good will for people. It is a complete LIE that he wanted to be “worshipped” or to “control.”
Mr. Siegel asked his students to be critical—to give the ideas of Aesthetic Realism a practical, even fierce, logical workout; to test them. That is what I saw he wanted, from the first class taught by him that I attended, a lecture on “Complaint and Hope in World Poetry,” to the last in 1978. He loved it when a person honestly disagreed with something and asked him critical questions to see what was true. Is that how to make people “worship”? This lie is immense. But some people—including certain liars—got angry that Mr. Siegel couldn’t be successfully flattered or bought.
How Eli Siegel saw people and reality itself is apparent to anyone in his books, poetry, lectures—many lectures can be found online at AestheticRealism.net. Take these lines from his 1925 Nation prize-winning poem, “Hot Afternoons Have Been in Montana”:
“The world is waiting to be known; Earth, what it has in it!
The past is in it;
All words, feelings, movements, words, bodies, clothes, girls, trees,
stones, things of beauty, books, desires are in it; and all are
to be known;
Afternoons have to do with the whole world;
And the beauty of mind, feeling knowingly the world!”