Statement by Timothy Lynch, Labor Leader
As to the lies about “worship” and feeling “persecuted”: I’ve studied Aesthetic Realism for more than 20 years and have come to the opinion that it is a body of knowledge which is clear and comprehensive, including about beauty and the causes of and solutions to humanity’s largest difficulties. I’ve seen that Eli Siegel’s scholarship about so much—Shakespeare, American history, mental health—was superb. This has been a cause of large pleasure and respect in people, including me. If saying this makes anyone think, as the liars want you to believe, that I’m “mindlessly worshipping a leader,” the person is a fool.
And the same liars want you to think that those who care for Aesthetic Realism feel we are “being persecuted or censored by the rest of the world.” It’s a fact that for years persons of the press and media boycotted the work of Mr. Siegel. What the world is and how some people with positions of authority run the world are two different matters. Because of my Aesthetic Realism education I’ve come to see that the world is a magnificent place. My love of art, literature, nature, economics, my interest in and honest care for people, are greater now than I ever dreamed they could be. To be sensible about the real world we’re in and to do practical work to have greater justice in it is, in my opinion, an intelligent way to have a happy life.
Most Americans are not naïve. They know lies are told to us (including in the press) more often than the weather is reported. To know this is not to feel “persecuted”; it’s to be a wise, keen, critical thinker.
Aesthetic Realism is no more a cult than is the PTA. As an elected union leader who has thrived in the rough and tumble world of organizing, I would never have survived for a New York minute if fellow union members and unorganized workers—some of the most street-smart people you’ll ever meet—felt I was a “cultist,” mindlessly worshiping a leader. In fact, I’m respected, looked up to, invited to speak at numerous events because of my Aesthetic Realism education. The fabricated fairy tales told about Aesthetic Realism by a few individuals are simply for the purpose of poisoning people against it. Their technique is the same standard operating procedure used by the many slimy “union busters” (a very profitable profession) throughout America: divert attention; spread disinformation; create scandal, fear, suspicion; dig up and/or create disgruntled “former members.” But always: lie, lie, lie! (See, for instance, Confessions of a Union Buster, by Martin Jay Levitt, Crown Publishers, NY 1993).
Some Perspective on Motives
Shakespeare was keen in seeing the cruel attitude in a person who hates respecting anything big. In Julius Caesar, he has Caesar say about one of the conspirators: “Such men as he be never at heart’s ease / Whiles they behold a greater than themselves, / And therefore are they very dangerous.” And in Othello, Iago gives this reason for resenting someone: “He hath a daily beauty in his life / That makes me ugly.”
For hundreds of years there have been small-minded individuals who have hated looking up to people with something large and new to say, and something which often questions the conceit, ignorance, vanity of the narrow-minded. And there has often been an effort by these narrow-minded individuals to destroy, frequently through lies, that which they take as a deep criticism of themselves. Over and over again, people have tried to kill that which they could not own, manipulate, have their way with. It has occurred in the history of science, democracy, the arts, abolition, civil rights, the labor movement and more. And, yes, Aesthetic Realism.
Lincoln was called a despot by millions in the South who saw his passion against the owning of slaves as the greatest threat to their “way of life.” So many foul things were said about and done to Martin Luther King Jr.—including the murder in Memphis, where he was organizing on behalf of striking sanitation workers—because he so beautifully opposed injustice and inspired and demanded respect for all people. I could comment on scores of labor leaders, framed, beaten, murdered, ruined through the massive lies put forth by traitors, the press, and the owning powers of the world. From Eugene V. Debs who was sentenced to 10 years in prison for opposing America’s taking part in World War I, to organizer Joe Hill, who was framed on a murder charge and sentenced to be shot by a firing squad. (His real “crime” was his passionate attempt to bring justice to the impoverished copper miners in Utah.)
A Major Union Is Called a Cult
Let’s look at a recent outrageous, lying statement, not about Aesthetic Realism. In the New York Times of September 23, 2004, there is an article about a hotel strike in New York City. In it, printed prominently, are these words by the hotel owner, about a long established and well respected union: “The strike was the act of a greedy union…It’s always easy to get people to join a cult…think of Jim Jones. You just get them to drink the Kool-Aid.” People were demanding that this owner be just. He didn’t like it, so the union was a “cult.”
I’ve seen many such vicious and outrageous statements about unions, often printed in the press and made to seem legitimate. The purpose is to have people not look at the facts but to be suspicious of unions and wary of joining one.
About Motive, Continued
In a recent column in the New York Times, its public editor, Daniel Okrent, describing how some persons can be very angry for a bad reason, cites a “favorite quotation [of his], from the British psychoanalyst Wilfred Bion: ‘Why do you hate me? I haven't done anything to help you.’" Some people hate being grateful to anything; hate learning anything beyond a certain point. That is so about today’s small crew of deceivers, who want to hurt Aesthetic Realism. So they pour on the lies, exploit the fact that people have a desire to be suspicious of anything they are unfamiliar with.
Another Relation to the History of Unions
The deceptively titled “National Right to Work Foundation,” a small, well funded business-backed anti-union propaganda group, has a filthy website that comes up almost immediately when you do a search on any major union. This is not because it is a popular website or because millions of people are worried about the “evil motives” of unions, but because sneaky manipulators of the Internet from this group, with a selfish agenda to promote, exploit the wonders of the World Wide Web. Their goal is to destroy unions—the greatest threat to the business of cruelly profiting from the labor of those who truly produce the wealth. They can’t do it by describing unions honestly, so what better way to interfere with people’s caring for unions, wanting to benefit from their power and kindness, than to lie about them, besmirch their real meaning with massive junk on the Internet?
The technique and purpose are similar to the attack on Aesthetic Realism via the Internet by a few persons (and occasionally via a collaborating press outlet) who lie about what Aesthetic Realism is and act as though they are noble crusaders for truth.
The credibility of a person behind the web campaign to sully the good name of Eli Siegel and the important work of the Aesthetic Realism Foundation has to be looked at. Michael Bluejay is self-noted for driving around parts of Texas naked on a tricycle. He posts pictures of these and other events showing his nakedness on his website, including full frontal nude pictures of himself, indoors and out. He is quoted in the Austin American-Statesman as engaging in his exhibitionism because:
"’It’s liberating; it’s an adrenaline rush,’ swears Michael Bluejay, a local bicycling and nudity enthusiast. ‘You’re testing the law, and you’re also testing people’s reaction to it.'”
The desire to shock people, and mock them and the world, is what makes for the “adrenaline rush.”
Also on his own website, he says: “People believe everything they read.” That isn’t true; but his saying it is relevant to his purpose. He’s trying to make people believe what he wants by telling a massive amount of lies and pointing to the few others who have the same ill will for an educational institution that can greatly encourage people’s understanding of themselves and the world.
The Washington Post Says: “Siegel’s Scholarship Shines through All His Writings”
In 1978 an article about Eli Siegel and Aesthetic Realism appeared in the Washington Post, written by reporter Michael Kernan, who had interviewed Mr. Siegel. Kernan wrote:
“The basic technique of Aesthetic Realism is the consultation. . . . Consultees are asked a series of questions, like, ‘What don’t you like about yourself’ and are encouraged to examine themselves in the best Socratic traditions. . . . In brief, the Aesthetic Realism approach is gentle and supportive, asking that people try to truly know themselves and thus to like themselves and the world. It is a matter of bringing inner conflicts into harmony. ‘How, after all,’ Siegel writes, ‘is one to be full of confidence in himself, and yet not the least bit narcissistic?’
“. . . Siegel’s scholarship shines through all his writings… and his talk glitters with references to Coleridge, Pound, Eliot, Hazlitt, Crashaw, Eugene Jolas, Dante and Allen Ginsberg, among others. In fact, his theories are closely connected with ‘the meaning of art itself, which describes strangely and pleasingly what the world is like.’”
The Baltimore Sun says: “Aesthetic Realism Thrives.”
Over 20 years ago, there was an article about Mr. Siegel and Aesthetic Realism in the Baltimore Sun, written by Sun literary commentator James Bready. With a certain savoir faire, Bready said: “There are always belittlers, who speak of Siegel as a Village guru and call his followers a cult.” Then he puts those “belittlers” in their place by quoting Huntington Cairns, the renowned editor (The Limits of Art) and Secretary of the National Gallery. Bready writes, quoting Cairns: “He scatters the unbelievers with a single aimed volley: ‘I believe that Eli Siegel was a genius. He did for aesthetics what Spinoza did for ethics.’"
Bready also says in his article that “Eli Siegel, celebrant of the United States in a manner that Walt Whitman would have cheered…led the life of a literary man and thinker,” and that even after Mr. Siegel’s death “Aesthetic Realism thrives.”
And that’s the problem for some people today: Aesthetic Realism is beautifully thriving! It is finally coming to be justly known in the world. And despite the cheap opposition, that it will be is as inevitable as the coming of next spring.