Monday, November 16, 2015

The Two Pleasures by Eli Siegel

In issue #162 (May 5, 1976) of the international journal, The Right of Aesthetic Realism to Be Known, Eli Siegel describes the minute to minute fight in every person between the pleasure of having respect for the world, including people, and the pleasure of contempt.  He defined contempt as, "the addition to self through the lessening of something else."  And we have seen contempt recently take a horrific and terrifying form on the streets of Paris.  Mr. Siegel begins this issue of The Right Of where he writes:

Dear Unknown Friends:  "One thing that is clear in the history of man is that he has had pleasure of two kinds.  Man has had pleasure from seeing a sunset; from Handel's Messiah; from seeing courage in someone; from a great rhythm in words.  He has also had pleasure from making everything he can meaningless; from changing architecture into broken eggshells; from making the mighty malodorous; from trivializing.  Man, then, praises; he also diminishes.  The same lips that can curve and droop into a sneer can be apart in astonishment.  Seeing meaning, then, has given pleasure; taking it away has also given pleasure."  You can read the full article here: