Statement by Mark Lale, Visual Artist,
Real Estate Broker, Writer / Studied Aesthetic Realism formally from 1976 to 1985
It is fair to say the Internet is a magnificent thing and I am a person who feels this. At the same time, like journals, books and other ways of communication, lies that are harmful can be printed and supported.
It has come to my attention that there is a website that asks people to list organizations they see as cults about which people should be warned in behalf of "freedom of mind." With freedom I believe, comes responsibility and accountability. The person making this website is a counselor. One can become a paying client through connecting to his services. This website is a good lead generating site for future clientele for this counselor.
The terrible thing which has happened is that a magnificent, honest educational foundation that teaches the philosophic education called Aesthetic Realism, founded by the American scholar and poet Eli Siegel is listed as a cult. Nothing could be further from the truth. And honestly, Aesthetic Realism is the knowledge that is most for universal education and the most anti-cult philosophy I have ever known. It actually would be the means of understanding a narrow, depreciative cult mentality. Aesthetic Realism should be removed from this site immediately if the host wants to be credible or scientific at all.
One should be enormously suspect of a website that would list Alcoholics Anonymous as a cult. What's next? Mothers Against Drunk Driving?
Aesthetic Realism was listed, because apparently anyone can list any group or organization they want. It happens that a person once affiliated with Aesthetic Realism, who saw himself as studying it, and now doesn't, writes about his problems with it and trashes it. Well, I studied Aesthetic Realism and benefited enormously from it. But then, unfortunately and regrettably, I resented the ethics Aesthetic Realism had in showing that I needed to be fairer to things and people than I thought necessary.
I now refute what a writer who trashes the truth says about people who study Aesthetic Realism being "threatened" about "leaving" to pursue things they find more to their liking. It's an educational foundation with classes and seminars. People come and go however they want. I heard first hand Aesthetic Realism Class Chairman Ellen Reiss say with good will to a person unsure they wanted to continue studying to teach Aesthetic Realism, that they were certainly free to "take your winnings and go."
Well, I am one of the persons who left with my winnings. And life has taught me some valuable lessons since then that my high opinion of Aesthetic Realism's value in my life was wholly accurate, and though I live in Chicago now, I value Aesthetic Realism principles enormously because I've really seen that a person has to want to be fair, honest, respectful to the facts all the time in order to like oneself. This happens, I believe, to be the honest basis for self-respect that all good ethical thought goes for. Aesthetic Realism is simply more comprehensive and clearer. I have seen that the integrity of Aesthetic Realism's ethics can make one's ego mad with a desire to punish.
I have seen this ugliness in myself and have had to oppose the lying upon which it thrives. The lie is this: ego says—The only way I feel good is being able to look down on anything at any time. This, however doesn't wash because our deeper conscience and true self says, I only feel good knowing I'm trying to be fair to everything, just as I would want people to be fair and not lessen me. If we choose the false aggrandizement of ego, we will lie about anything or anybody. The human ability to lessen and lie is, I think, the only reason this magnificent education could ever be referred to as a cult. This is the biggest lie, both tragic and ridiculous in the extreme.
I have lived away from New York and the Aesthetic Realism Foundation with my wife and two children for 19 years in LA, San Francisco, Miami and now Chicago—chasing decent ad agency jobs. Aesthetic Realism's kind, respectful clarity and its criticism of the human propensity to depreciate and have unjust contempt for people and things are valuable and life encouraging everywhere!
The writer who listed Aesthetic Realism as a cult and says everyone who learns from it and cares for it lives within walking distance to the Aesthetic Realism Foundation in New York is lying. There are people studying throughout the world.
I also resent, object to and despise the way the trasher of Aesthetic Realism calls students and teachers of Aesthetic Realism—Members. I was not a member of anything. I studied ideas. I'm the person who removed the letter from his college sport letter jacket—that's how I feel about being labeled or summed up as a group member. Doctors, lawyers, writers, scholars, dentists, teachers, business executives, actors, artists, people that represent all of America and the world study and teach this dynamic, deep, useful and kind education.
I am an independent thinker and I don't like to be insulted. And I don't like good people who should only be respected to be insulted. It's just wrong. So please, Aesthetic Realism trasher, just flush your whole diatribe and get honest and get this destructiveness off the Internet. Try to figure yourself out any way you can, but get this garbage removed!
As to the lie about education
Another lie the trasher on the "freedom of mind" website puts forth is that Aesthetic Realism does not encourage one to get a college degree. This misrepresentation enrages me. Aesthetic Realism teaches what Eli Siegel saw: "The purpose of education is to like the world through knowing it." Huge, amazing, life enhancing leaps have taken place in terms of persons' education as they have studied the meaning of this statement.
Aesthetic Realism has succeeded in having people who struggled terribly, learn to read beautifully for the first time in their lives. I did well in school but my mind was encouraged in tremendous, new ways to embrace facts and sustain them and that is deeply part of my success at work today.
What a horrible thing to put out there that Aesthetic Realism interfered with a person's earning a college degree. Maybe he was asked to think more deeply and usefully about why he wanted a degree or what he was actually planning to study to encourage him to focus and then he twisted this good intent. I personally wish he would want to be fair to knowledge and facts way beyond a Bachelor's degree-make himself proud for God's sake.
But the way the falsehood just sits there for people to read is abhorrent. I say this because our children, who have been encouraged from their earliest days to do the beginning Aesthetic Realism assignment to write one complete sentence about something in the world they like each day—had their minds so encouraged!! By the time they got to kindergarten they were seen as gifted. I know they excel because of what they learned about ethics! Our daughter is in a pre-med program in college receiving a full academic scholarship her freshman year; tested out of her first year of credits; has always been on the honor roll and now the Dean's list; calls home with reports of: highest score on the Biology final in a class of 500, highest score in my chemistry class of 700, "friends tease me-call me scary and genius." She's the head of voter registration campus wide. So it is very hard to hear lies about Aesthetic Realism's value in education when we know better!
I conclude with what I have written on the back of my business card many, many times in these years knowing I am being a real friend to the person I hand it to: "Tremendous study of world ethics." — www.AestheticRealism.org — Go!
BFA Degree Southwest Missouri State University 1976 Graphic Design and Painting
MFA Graduate Coursework Pratt Institute 1977
Art Director and Copywriter with Multinational Ad Agencies 1980—2000