Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Aesthetic Realism and "The Hope That Will Not Leave One," by Eli Siegel

I am pleased to publish the following paragraphs written by Eli Siegel in 1973 as an introduction to a public seminar given then by Aesthetic Realism Consultants to women Devorah Tarrow and Margot Carpenter. What goes on in love and social life has not been seen by men and woman as a subject of education--that one can actually learn what it how to meet your own deepest hopes in love and also the deepest hopes of another person. Eli Siegel writes about this in: "The Hope That Will Not Leave."

"In the past, many women hoped that the person closest to them was known by them in a beautiful way.  A woman's desire to know someone close to her, and worthy of being close, in a manner that looks good to her and more beautiful to her as her life goes on--that is still the hope that will not leave.  It is also her desire that the way she is known look more beautiful. It is all in keeping with perhaps the most poetic expression in the New Testament, 1 Corinthians 13.

The matter of knowing and being known is a high philosophic matter, but it can be said that sex, with all its use of sense, goes for that.  To be known and to know at once is the sensible and poetic desire of woman; and since man at his beginning is very much like woman, it is the greatest desire of a man too.  The worst thing that happens to marriage, or a relation that is not marriage, is the resignation that both people may have to incomplete or spurious knowing of each other.  Loneliness has gone on because the way one sees oneself is not the way another sees one.

The problem of knowing is the same as the problem of liberation.  If we do not wish to know, we shall never be free.  If we do not wish to be known, we also shall never be free.  The danger of not being known is to put on a socially affable air equivalent to the idea that we are known or that it doesn't matter.  Once we consent to not knowing another or not being known, we have said our lives are not worth much.  The greatest hope of woman, then, is to do something deep and honest and great with the possibility of knowing and being known.  It is still a new endeavor; and Aesthetic Realism hopes to encourage people not to be satisfied with something less than what they deeply want.

Women in the nineteenth century came to the end of their lives feeling that the person who was with them for many years was still somebody else and they were somebody else to that person.  What closeness there was the closeness of propinquity and custom.  There is another thing possible.  Every woman should hope to be loved, surely, but also should hope to love the way another person sees her. If she gives that up, she is saying her life isn't worth much because her deepest hope is not worth much.  The great problem of love is the problem of:  How do we want to know another and how do we want to be known?  This question is great, eternal, lovely, and also immediate for every person."