Reprinted from...
West Orange Chronicle

[Spring, 1972]                                   West Orange, NJ

Ninth graders learn about opposites in reality, literature and themselves

Roosevelt Junior High School, West Orange, is one of the first schools in New Jersey to introduce a new educational approach, that of Aesthetic Realism, as it is taught by the 20th-century poet and critic, Eli Siegel. 

Barbara Allen and Patricia Martone, who teach English to the ninth grade, have found their new approach makes clear that crucial relation between literature and a person's life outside the classroom. 

Aesthetic Realism states, "The world. art and self explain each other: each is the aesthetic oneness of opposites." 

Miss Allen, who is also one of the 18 Aesthetic Realism consultants, teaches in seminars and consultations at the Terrain Gallery, New York City. 

In their classes, Miss Allen and Miss Martone have asked their students questions like these: 

"How does Romeo see the world as his parents fight with the Capulet family?" 

"What does the power of language come from?" 

"Does the structure of poetry say that the world as it is can be liked?" 

Their two colleagues lectured at Roosevelt Junior High School this past year: Margot Carpenter, consultant and poet, talked on the Aesthetic Realism approach to poetry, including such poems as Vachel Lindsay's "Santa Fe Trail" and Christina Rossetti's "Who Shall Deliver Me?" 

Said Miss Carpenter: "Aesthetic Realism sees poetry as the oneness of the permanent opposites in reality as seen by an individual and given musical form. It is the first flawless criterion for differentiating true poetry from writing which is not true poetry. I see knowing poetry as a beautiful necessity in every person's life, whether he knows it or not." 

Actress and teacher, Anne Fielding, spoke on the Aesthetic Realism way of seeing acting and the drama, including Eli Siegel's important lecture on Romeo and Juliet. 

Miss Fielding said, "The most necessary thing for people to hear is what I learned from Eli Siegel: Drama doesn't fight reality, it shows what reality is, by showing it as a oneness of opposites. Drama should be used to know the world and people better, not to escape or be superior. Drama and our families are more friendly than we know. 

All this has encouraged students to see that literature has to do with their very selves. Aesthetic Realism, as an educational method, fights the tendency towards contempt, which can be defined, "There is a disposition in every person to think he will be for himself by making less of the outside world." 

"The value of studying contempt in the classroom," says Miss Allen, "is that it combats the very thing that is most against learning, and encourages students to want to know the world, literature, and people." 

Gary Schoenholtz, ninth grade student, wrote in his consideration of Romeo and Juliet, "This conflict and this play help you to understand other people's emotions, and thereby your own." 

His, and other students' remarks, begin to show the value of this approach. Say Miss Hansen and Miss Martone, "We feel Aesthetic Realism meets what we've been looking for."

Resources on Aesthetic Realism, which I recommend in addition to what's already mentioned on this page, are: (1) The Aesthetic Realism Online Library which has reviews, essays by Eli Siegel, poetry and lectures by Mr. Siegel, books, articles in the press, and The Right of Aesthetic Realism to Be Known. (2) The Web site "Friends of Aesthetic Realism—Countering the Lies" in which students and former students of Aesthetic Realism tell the truth about some of the meanest misrepresentations we've seen. It has wit and satire on it. (3) Links to sites created by persons whose first hand knowledge of Aesthetic Realism and its approach to art, literature, the economy, and life make them important authorities in today's cultural world. (4) Writing by Ellen Reiss, the Chairman of Education at the Aesthetic Realism Foundation, on Robert Burns, Lord Byron, Emily Dickinson; on the Middle East, on Harry Potter as literature; as well as descriptions of the classes she teaches by architect David Salmon, by New York teachers B. McClung and L. Phillips, and by English teacher Leila Rosen. (5) Dr. Arnold Perey's site "Aesthetic Realism: A New Perspective for Anthropology and Sociology."