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


arrow for Friends of Aesthetic Realism Poets, literary critics, scholars, and others comment on the importance of Eli Siegel's work in their own fields of expertise. This includes reviews in the NY Times and elsewhere.
arrow for Friends of Aesthetic Realism Ralph Hattersley, noted critic of photography... not only counters the lies, but shows something of their history and motivation.
arrow for Friends of Aesthetic Realism Articles in the news about Eli Siegel & reviews
arrow for Friends of Aesthetic Realism Criticism of Poetry by Eli Siegel and Ellen Reiss
arrow for Friends of Aesthetic Realism Scribner's Magazine book reviews written by Eli Siegel
arrow for Friends of Aesthetic Realism Classes taught by Ellen Reiss
arrow for Friends of Aesthetic Realism Poems by Eli Siegel


1. Poets, literary critics, scholars comment on Eli Siegel and the Aesthetic Realism understanding of their fields

From the New York Times Book Review, Popular Photography, Library Journal, Smithsonian magazine, the Harlem Times, the Saturday Review, J.E.B. Breslin's Something to Say, and more :

In the New York Times Book Review, Kenneth Rexroth reviewed Hail, American Development, poems by Eli Siegel —

"I think it's about time Eli Siegel was moved up into the ranks of our acknowledged Leading Poets..."

"His translations of Baudelaire and his commentaries on them rank him with the most understanding of the Baudelaire critics in any language." > continue reading

William Carlos Williams wrote to Martha Baird concerning "Hot Afternoons Have Been in Montana" and other poems by Eli Siegel [Reprinted in Something to Say, ed. J.E.B. Breslin (New Directions)]—

I can't tell you how important Siegel's work is in the light of my present understanding of the modern poem. He belongs in the very first rank of our living artists....I congratulate you on the intelligent direction of your work and the heart behind it.... > continue reading 

Shelby Foote wrote to Margot Carpenter about Eli Siegel's lecture The Orderly Extremewhich discusses Foote's own story "Ride Out" [Note: Shelby Foote, known for his three volume history The Civil War: A Narrative, is also known for his part in PBS documentary series The Civil War ]—

I thank you for sending me the reenactment tapes of Eli Siegel's lectures....As for the one on my story "Ride Out," I had much the same reaction Wm Carlos Williams did in regard to his own work, as explicated by Mr. Siegel—he saw it with "new eyes," eyes that took the trouble and had the insight to perceive the words from inside, so to speak. Moreover, I found much the same quality in the companion tapes, and I am grateful that you took the trouble to send them to me. [Memphis, 23 April 2002]

Library Journal  review of Aesthetic Realism: We Have Been There—

Heraclitus, Aristotle, Kant, Hegel, and even Martin Buber have posited contraries and polarities in their philosophies. Eli Siegel, however, seems to be the first to demonstrate that "all beauty is the making one of the permanent opposites in reality."... > continue reading

Huntington Cairns, Secretary of the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC ( stated—

I believe that Eli Siegel was a genius. He did for aesthetics what Spinoza did for ethics.

Hugh Kenner wrote in Poetry magazine that Eli Siegel's book James and the Children, a Consideration of Henry James's The Turn of the Screw—"the story critics often traverse on their hands and knees"—is

a reading so careful it occupies about as many pages as the story itself, and so candid it reduces most previous discussion to wilful evasiveness....The oddness of a literary critic constantly asking us to think about real children can suggest how odd is the criticism we're accustomed to.

Robert B. Heilman, Chair of the English Department of the University of Washington, wrote this about Mr. Siegel’s consideration of Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw:

It is an immense relief to find someone as good as Siegel is, refusing the fashionable explanation of the story, and looking at what it actually says. I like the way in which he constantly points out how the governess goofs or the tone goes awry, something which in my own treatment I failed to do.

[Note: Robert Heilman wrote The Turn of the Screw as Poem and was a founder of the New Criticism.]

Noah Gordon, publisher of the journal Psychiatric Opinion, wrote:

I believe it will be of particular interest to child psychiatrists. It enabled me to reread The Turn of the Screw with new shocks of recognition….Siegel is a critic who assesses style with a poet’s ear and characterization with a philosopher’s eye.

[Note: Noah Gordon also was publisher of the Journal of Human Stress and was the science editor of the Boston Herald as well as a noted novelist (]

Ralph Hattersley in Popular Photography. Review ofAesthetic Realism: We Have Been There—Six Artists on the Siegel Theory of Opposites, by David Bernstein and others—

....The book is well written and well conceived. I think it deals with fundamental truths concerning the nature of man, art and reality.... > continue reading

[Note: Ralph Hattersley was editor of the photography journal Infinity.]

In Smithsonian magazine's review of Self and World: An Explanation of Aesthetic Realism, reviewer Linda Ann Kunz writes—

Whether child or adult is spoken of, this book sees a person's concerns with dignity and compassion. Take the matter of guilt, for example....> continue reading

Studs Terkel, writer and historian wrote:

I like Eli Siegel's ideas!

Harlem Times review by Alice Bernstein of Children's Guide to Parents and Other Matters: Little Essays for Children and Others by Eli Siegel with introduction by Ellen Reiss, illustrated by Dorothy Koppelman—

They are lively, surprising, and convey so much of the joy, turbulence, and thoughtfulness in a child’s life... > continue reading

In The Saturday Review Selden Rodman reviewed Hot Afternoons Have Been in Montana: Poems by Eli Siegel—

He comes up with poems like "Dear Birds, Tell This to Mothers," "She's Crazy and It Means Something," and "The World of the Unwashed Dish" which say more (and more movingly) about here and now than any contemporary poems I have read.... > continue reading

2. Poems by Eli Siegel

Poetry by Eli Siegel has been published in the following periodicals: Accent, Antioch Review, Blues, Commentary, Definition, Free Verse, Harper's Bazaar, Hopkins Review, Husk,Hound & Horn, Kauri, Today's Japan, Literary Review of the New York Evening Post, The Literary Review,Minaret,Modern Quarterly,The Nation, The New Act, The New Republic, New Mexico Quarterly,The New York Quarterly, North American Review, The Pegasus, Perspective, Poetry, Poetry Folio, Poetry Public, Prairie Schooner, Poor Old Tired Horse,Prism International, Quarto, The Right of Aesthetic Realism to Be Known; Southwest Review, The Times (London) Literary Supplement; in the International Graphic Arts Society catalog; and as Terrain Gallery broadsides as well as in the following books: Hot Afternoons Have Been in Montana: Poems; Hail, American Development.

*Hot Afternoons Have Been in Montana
*Local Stop, Sheridan Square
*Must I Wait All My Life; or, The Misery Song
*Something Else Should Die
*They Look at Us
*Kaddish (Words Having Holiness)
*The Dark That Was Is Here
*Quiet, Tears, Babies
*To Dylan Thomas
*A Marriage
*Hymn to Jazz and the Like
*Alice Has Never Been in China
*Poems, Chiefly Scientific
*The Unknown Should Be Good
*This Summer Morning Mariana Has
*An Instance of Dyspepsia
*Neighboring You
*All For Herself; Shakey
*21 Distichs about Children
Have the Lily

    Short Poems

* One Question
* Love and Jobs
* Discouraged People
* Still the Dawn
* Spark
* Come, Spring Flowers
* Contemporary History

Note: Each title links to the entire poem. Some poems have Eli Siegel's explanatory note, as published either in Hot Afternoons Have Been in Montana: Poems or in Hail, American Development.

Enoch Pratt Free Library of Baltimore in conjunction with the Aesthetic Realism Foundation presented "The Poetry of Eli Siegel: a Centennial Celebration."

  • Read statements by many individual men and women
  • Read reviews from the NY Times, Smithsonian, Saturday Review, Library Journal, Harlem Times, Popular Photography, and more
  • Read poetry by Eli Siegel so greatly respected by William Carlos Williams and many others
  • A letter by Ralph Hattersley, noted critic of photography ...not only counters the lies, but is a means of showing something of their history and motivation
  • Read lectures by Eli Siegel on subjects as diverse as literature, love, & economics
  • About classes for Aesthetic Realism consultants and associates taught by Ellen Reiss 
  • Poetic criticism by Eli Siegel and Ellen Reiss
  • A Note on Aesthetic Realism Consultations; or, More Weirdness from an Attacker of Aesthetic Realism
  • Scribner's Magazine book reviews written by Eli Siegel

  • A Little Anthology of Comments (Some Funny We Hope) on Further Misrepresentations
           — including:
    Isn't being Anonymous
    I can say anything ugly and
       dishonest I choose...


    bullet for Friends of Aesthetic Realism "The Incredible Aesthetic Realism Deadlock..."
                                and more

    A Dramatic and Cautionary Tale about an Unknown and Very Unimportant Person

    There once was a young man of ancient Greece named Milos. And Milos knew Socrates. He did not like Socrates because the great man asked far too many questions....continued

    Statements by Friends of Aesthetic Realism

    Barbara Allen
    Frances Amello
    Jerry Amello
    Christopher Balchin
    Mara Bennici
    David Berger
    Alice Bernstein
    Rachel J. Bernstein
    Barbara Buehler
    Gina Buffone
    Beverly Sue Burk
    Maureen Butler
    Jeffrey Carduner
    Margot Carpenter
    Lori & Robert Colavito
    Albert Corvino
    Nicholas Corvino
    Henry D'Amico
    Matthew D’Amico
    Ernest DeFilippis
    Vincent DiPietro
    Carol Driscoll
    Donita Ellison
    Lorraine Galkowski, RN
    Pamela Goren
    Edward Green
    Avi Gvili
    Ames Huntting
    Mark Lale
    Dale Laurin
    Rose Levy
    Timothy Lynch
    Lorraine Mahoney, RN
    Derek Mali
    Glenn Mariano
    Haroldo Mauro Jr.
    Joseph Meglino
    Pauline Meglino
    Allan Michael
    Marvin Mondlin
    Robert Murphy
    Michael J. Nadeau
    Meryl Nietsch-Cooperman
    Ruth Oron
    Arnold Perey, PhD
    Lauren Phillips
    Jack Plumstead
    Maria Plumstead
    Rosemary Plumstead
    Rev. Wayne Plumstead
    Marcia Rackow
    Zvia Ratz
    Ann Richards
    Anthony C. Romeo
    Leila Rosen
    Rhonda Rosenthal
    Sally Ross
    Claudia Senatore
    Sheldon Silverman
    Jeffrey Sosinsky, MD
    Barbara Spetly McClung
    Joseph Spetly
    Faith K. Stern
    John Stern
    Arlene Sulkis
    Devorah Tarrow
    Jaime R. Torres, DPM
    Dennis L. Tucker
    Francine Weber
    Steve Weiner
    Miriam Weiss
    Carrie Wilson


         Lectures by Eli Siegel, edited by Ellen Reiss and serialized weekly in The Right Aesthetic Realism to Be Known, have been published online as well as in print. Eight are presented here, with their original placement in issues of The Right Of. As you will see, as you follow links that lead from one issue to the next, The Right Of contains articles by persons studying Aesthetic Realism as well as Ms. Reiss's commentaries telling of the works in each issue.
         Note: As you look at these lectures, you will be visiting the website of the Eli Siegel Collection where they reside. The Collection is the 25,000-volume library used by Mr. Siegel in the development of Aesthetic Realism. It includes world literature, philosophy, works on approaches to mind, poetry, history, art and literary criticism, labor and economics, the sciences. Its special collections include French, German, and Spanish literature; Early American History; 19th Century periodical literature; British and American poetry. Many books contain handwritten annotations, lecture notes, and original manuscripts of Mr. Siegel's poetry.

    arrow for Aesthetic Realism lecturesPoetry and Women in The Right of Aesthetic Realism to Be Known, no. 1525-1529

    Writes Ellen Reiss in the Editor's Commentary:  "We begin to serialize the historic lecture Poetry and Women, which Eli Siegel gave in 1949. So much in women’s lives has changed since then. Women now do just about everything men do. Yet though it is expected that girls play soccer, and female doctors and lawyers abound, and no one is surprised to see a woman wield a hammer, there is still a difference between woman and man. The question What is a woman? remains."  Includes discussions of 16th-century poet Louise Labé, 17th-century Mary Chudleigh, Caroline Norton (1808-77), Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and Virginia Woolf   Begin this serialized Aesthetic Realism lecture here.

    (1) Poetry and Women
    (2) A 17th-Century Woman
    (3) The Lasting Problem
    (4) Two Women

    (5) To Be Herself

    Selves Are in Economics in The Right of Aesthetic Realism to Be Known, no. 1511-1521

    Writes Ellen Reiss in her Editor's Commentary to this issue of TRO:  "Eli Siegel saw what other economists have not: the chief matter in economics is the human self in its fulness, the self of every person. Economics is connected to the same self in each of us that hopes, loves, is bewildered, wants to understand who we are..." > Begin this serialized Aesthetic Realism lecture here.

    (1) Selves Are in Economics
    (2) Everywhere in Economics
    (3) Selves and Monopoly
    (4) To Understand, or Own? 
    (5) Possession, Considered
    (6) Acquisition, Objected To

    (7) The Greatest Power
    (8) Self Is with Education
    (9) Banks, Oil, & the Opposites
    (10) An Idea of Success 
    (11) Love, Economics, and Ordinary Contempt

    Educational Method Is Poetic in The Right of Aesthetic Realism to Be Known, no. 1448-1457

    "I’ve called this talk 'Educational Method Is Poetic.' I use the word poetic carefully, and persons listening should judge whether that is a flamboyant title or is essentially true. The material for such a talk, of course, is all over the world...." — Eli Siegel  > Begin this serialized Aesthetic Realism lecture here.

    (1)  Educational Method Is Poetic
    (2)  Education Is the Opposites
    (3)  A World More Likable
    (4)  Education & a Scientist
    (5)  Science and Ethics 

    (6)  Education and Shakespeare
    (7)  Liveliness and Form
    (8)  Can We Learn from This?
    (9)  What Education Does
    (10)  What Ties It All Together

    Aesthetic Realism and Nature in The Right of Aesthetic Realism to Be Known, no. 1417-1423

    (1)  Aesthetic Realism and Nature
    (2)  The Dilemma of Jeffries
    (3)  Is it Still Nature?
    (4)  There Are Whales, Too
    (5)  With & Against Nature
    (6)  Logic: A Product of Nature
    (7)  Nature Is Unity and Variety

    Ownership, Strikes, Unions in The Right of Aesthetic Realism to Be Known no. 1356-1366

    Writes Ellen Reiss in her Editor's Commentary:  Ownership, Strikes, one of the "Goodbye Profit System" lectures--in which Mr. Siegel described, documented, and explained something enormous taking place in world economics and within people....By the spring of 1970...the profit system, a way of using human beings that had always been ugly, was now irrevocably crippled....And even more than in the1970s, there is an anger across America [now]...a fury in people about the way they are seen on the job: contemptuously, in terms of...profit.  > Begin this serialized Aesthetic Realism lecture here.

    (1)  Ownership, Strikes, Unions
    (2)  About Value
    (3)  The Quarrel
    (4)  Management Is Labor

    (5)  Stocks and Ethics
    (6)  The Protest Continues
    (7)  What Is Protest?
    (8)  Ethics Has Spoken

    Poetry and Keenness in The Right of Aesthetic Realism to Be Known no. 1314-1323

    "Keenness is in poetry because it is one of the big things in life. A person has a cheek; a person has fingernails. There are points in our body, and wide surfaces and smooth surfaces. Keenness is the world coming to a point, the world being sharp. In keenness, aesthetically speaking, there are four things: cuttingness; piercingness; neatness; and depth. And keenness is a sign that there is an interior, a dimension." — Eli Siegel  > Begin this serialized Aesthetic Realism lecture here.

    (1)  Poetry and Keenness
    (2)  Keenness: A Desire in Art
    (3)  Keenness and Depression
    (4)  Keenness Is Kind
    (5)  Keenness and Yeats

    (6)  Beyond Surface
    (7)  The Senses and the Self
    (8)  More about Keenness
    (9) Whole Vision
    (10) Keenness Divides and Joins

    Animate and Inanimate Are in Music and Conscience in TRO no. 1291-1301

    "I found that the depths of Aesthetic Realism could be shown in a rather new way through music. And strangely enough, the most modern things in music, the most difficult things, are the most useful there. The fight between structure and emotion, between emotion and music almost as solid geometry, does go on. And there are terms that concern conscience—the earlier term polyphony, the new one polytonality, also atonality. And I hope to show that looking at these things is a way of seeing conscience too." — Eli Siegel  > Begin this serialized Aesthetic Realism lecture here

    (1)  Music and Conscience
    (2)  Brilliance and Depth
    (3)  Listening Right
    (4)  When We Dislike Something
      What Is in a Good Conscience
    (6)  Melody and Turmoil
    (7)  Mahler: Awesome and Frail

    (8)  Conflicts in Music
    (9)  Music: Pain and Pleasure
    (10) Junction, Separation, Evil
    (11) The Melody of Conscience

    Poetry and History in TRO no. 1385-1393

    From the editor's commentary by Ellen Reiss:   Mr. Siegel wrote and lectured much on history.  His scholarship in the field was immense.  And--whether he was speaking about Wat Tyler or John Adams, the French Revolution or the Spanish Civil War--the events and the feelings of the time became real to those who heard him, as close to you as the very clothes you were wearing...[and] you had a sense always (it's in the lecture we're serializing) of largeness--you felt the bigness of reality.... > Begin this serialized Aesthetic Realism lecture here.

    (1)  Poetry and History
    (2)  A Relation of Facts
    (3)  Facts and Poetry
    (4)  What History Says

    (5)  The Ordinary Is History
    (6)  History: Fixed and Unfixed
    (7)  The Past Is Brought
    (8)  This History, This Poetry

    4. Classes Taught by Ellen Reiss, Chairman of Education

    The professional classes taught by Ellen Reiss are for persons teaching Aesthetic Realism and studying how to teach. See descriptions of these classes in:

    The statement of Maureen Butler, which includes a class discussion with herself and Ms. Reiss.  She explains: There are two distinct kinds of classes offered in the curriculum of the Aesthetic Realism Foundation." ...continue here.

    Class discussion on Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. In the issue of TRO titled Nature, Romanticism, & Harry Potter, Ellen Reiss explained how Romanticism—the literary movement thought to have ended long ago—was, in fact, continuing today, and is instanced by the work of J.K. Rowling. Her class discussion of Harry Potter, the substance of which is in this TRO, represents the humanity and scholarship of all the classes she teaches. You can see this when you read this issue of The Right Of which begins:

         I'll comment here on a work that...has been affecting men, women, and children throughout the English-speaking world. I refer to the first of the Harry Potter novels, by J.K. Rowling: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, originally published in England in 1997. What does its enormous popularity say about people and what they are looking for?

         First of all, the importance of this novel, its goodness, and the enthusiasm about it are explained by the following principle, the basis of Aesthetic Realism: "All beauty is a making one of opposites, and the making one of opposites is what we are going after in ourselves." And the chief opposites that Ms. Rowling has made inseparable are the opposites that are central to romanticism, that new way of feeling and showing the world which began in Europe at the end of the 18th century: the opposites of the strange and the ordinary.

         Eli Siegel is the critic who showed that romanticism did not stop by the second half of the 19th century, as is generally thought — and it has never stopped....> To continue reading what Ellen Reiss explains, as she places J.K. Rowling culturally as an artist, click here.

    Class discussion about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's famous character, Sherlock Holmes. In a discussion of Conan Doyle's works, Ms. Reiss commented—with the human feeling which, as we are saying, she always has in her classes—on why the stories of the great detective are so alive today. In The Right Of we can see what was in this class when she writes, for example,

            The first of the Sherlock Holmes stories, the novel A Study in Scarlet, appeared in 1887; and interest in them has not waned. They have been made into movies, both for big screen and television, and I’m sure will continue to be. A large reason is: Sherlock Holmes does ever so well with opposites that are central to all detective stories, the known and unknown.

            These opposites are central in everyone’s life too, and very, very much can be said of them. There is a huge tendency in people to be afraid of the unknown... > Read more here

    A class in which Ellen Reiss discussed the meaning of idioms. On her website, award-winning New York City teacher of English Leila Rosen, who has described her use of the Aesthetic Realism teaching method in The English Record and elsewhere, presents an account of a class taught by Ellen Reiss on a delightful and mysterious aspect of language: idioms. Under the title of "The World Is in Idioms: Report of an Aesthetic Realism Class Taught by Ellen Reiss" Ms. Rosen writes,

    In Aesthetic Realism, Eli Siegel explained the central purpose of every person's life: to like the world on an aesthetic basis, as the oneness of opposites.  This fact has in it the dignity of man, present in every activity of our lives, including the most ordinary.  This is what consultants and associates had the privilege to study through a talk given by Chairman of Education Ellen Reiss in an Aesthetic Realism Class.  Ms. Reiss began:

    In thinking about how to study the Aesthetic Realism explanation of the self as the oneness of opposites, and the desire to like the world, I felt it would be valuable to look at an aspect of language, which comes from the self—the meaning of idioms.  Every idiom was come to by people and says what the self is.

    "Many idioms are metaphors," she continued, and gave this example:

      A heel is something that's the back of your foot, [but] there was a first time someone was called a “heel." How did it happen? “Heel” is defined in the handbook as “a disloyal or traitorous fellow.” 

    “What does this say about the relation of the ethical world and the physical world?,” she asked John Bowman. “That the self wants to make a relation between them,” he said.  “Do you think,” Ms. Reiss asked, “the human mind says there is a relation? There's some feeling that ethics is of the world itself.” 

    She explained, “Someone felt—the word ‘rascal’ won't do; ‘scoundrel’ won't do—no, it's ‘heel,’” which she said has a feeling of contempt and meanness in it. To show how, Ms. Reiss gave this example: “That heel—he made me think I meant something to him. He was just after those fancy dinners I bought him.” And pointing to the fact that the heel is low, she asked, “In any society, would a person ever see lowness as standing for great character of a very fine kind? It does seem that the world itself and how it's made has a relation to ethics.”... > Continue reading the entire discussion.

    5. Criticism of Poetry

    Aesthetic Realism explains both the beauty and usefulness of poetry and shows that what poetry is and the questions of life are inextricable.  We see this in discussions by Eli Siegel and also Ellen Reiss, some brief, and others more extensive, that appear in The Right of Aesthetic Realism to Be Known. These discussions describe poetry technically; what makes for its music; how the lives of poets comment on matters that concern people most.

    The poetry of:

    Also see the Aesthetic Realism Online Library  the Aesthetic Realism Foundation  Terrain Gallery  What scholars, writers, artists & teachers are saying  the Aesthetic Realism Theatre Company  & Links
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