By Barbara Allen

Part I

A wife wrote in her diary, January 15, 1869: 

[My husband] told me during the evening that he loved me above all else in the world, and these words made me immeasurably happy—even if I know it already within my heart without his having to tell me.

This is Cosima Wagner and she is writing about her husband, one of the greatest composers who ever lived, Richard Wagner, a man who was passionate about the sounds of reality—both powerful and delicate as he wrote Die Meistersinger, Tristan und Isolde, Lohengrin and so much more. Wives have longed to hear these words from their husbands —"I love you above all else in the world" and have felt they represent the warmth, the passion they need in what they see as an uncaring world. And then there comes to be increasing coldness, distrust of each other, and pain. The question is why? At last, through the study of Aesthetic Realism, the answer exists! 

It means my life to me that I have learned from Eli Siegel and Aesthetic Realism: true warmth between two people always depends on how fair we both want to be to the world—to other people, to truth itself. Unless wives and husbands use caring for each other to value other things more, the opposites of warmth and coldness will be in a painful, hurtful relation. A wife will want to soothe her husband and get "comfort" from him, while having contempt for a world she sees as against them. And she will be cold to the need they both have—which is as organic as one's heartbeat—to see the world, other people and things with passionate justice. 

"To marry a person has been," Mr. Siegel explains in his great lecture The Furious Aesthetics of Marriage

in the history of love and marriage, the finding of a shelter against the world as unpleasant. We hope better terms from a person loving us than we have got from the world so far, or from other people who haven't seemed to love us, and whom we haven't loved....So we have [a couple saying to each other] "you worry more about me than anybody else in the world, perhaps more than my immediate family; but at the same time, your ways, with all their devotion, are not a means of my coming to authentic terms with the world."Now, after centuries of confusion, wives are learning from Aesthetic Realism how to be warm and exact in love! 

The Desire to Have Contempt Made Me Cold

I am grateful to Aesthetic Realism, to Eli Siegel, and Chairman of Education Ellen Reiss that the feeling I had that I would be cold for the rest of my life, changed! I learned that there were two mistakes I made as I was growing up in the Midwest—both of which made love impossible for me. I did not think about what other people close to me felt. Instead, I saw everyone in terms of how they treated me. I used the fact that my father praised me excessively, saying, for instance, "You have the world by the tail on a downhill pull"—and also that he was deeply cold to what I was hoping for, to think wrongly all men were foolish and mean, and I was superior to them.

And two, as I saw my parents give each other pain, as many children do—I made the unconscious decision that I should rely on myself, be cool. As time went on, I became harder and colder. Even the things I had cared for most—music, learning how to play the flute—I was losing interest in and angry with. I had come to an attitude to the world—that it was a cold place, confusing, and I wanted to keep it out. And then at times I would try to act warm to a man while worried I did not have feeling. 

I didn't know that I was after two opposing things—to like the world, have large feelings; and I also got a hurtful satisfaction, as Mr. Siegel once described it to me: "finding other people unfair," so that I could justify having myself to myself and being unmoved, distant from people. He said to me: "You have a fight between the intimate and the remote...a tendency to feel beauty is in the sunset without any people."[12-20-70] And he asked: "Do you want other people to do you good? Do you think a man can do you some good?" I did not think so, but now I am proud to say the answer is a resounding Yes!—and this is so in my marriage to Arnold Perey, who is an Aesthetic Realism consultant.

With each year, instead of growing more rigid and aloof, I am more alive! I have more feeling about what people deserve, about Aesthetic Realism itself, and Eli Siegel, who throughout his life was passionately, warmly for the best thing in every person, in me, and thoroughly against what is unjust.

It means a very great deal to me that Arnold Perey and I are learning together in the magnificently kind classes given by Ellen Reiss—whom we love and who has encouraged both of us to see what it means to have good will—to take care of the best thing in another person and to lovingly 
criticize the worst. In our marriage of over 20 years we have new large and passionate feeling for each other, which grows. 

Central in my education is what I learned from an early marriage which ended in divorce a year later. When I met JV, I was affected by the fact that he was shy, and I thought I could "bring him out." In a class some years later Mr. Siegel so kindly explained the mix up in me about warmth and coldness. He said: "You know too much about soothing. When you married, you weren't sure if you were a wife or a spiritual nurse." And he continued: 

We can hope to be cared for in a certain way, also in a way that is not accurate....When Miss Allen married, there was a personal building up, comfort, there was a desire for approval. Then there was a feeling...that the whole world is not on the side of this, and that is somewhat sad. Miss Allen wants to see the whole world better and the devotion of this person hindered that. [12-8-73; 12-18-73]And he said:  Care is a mingling of science and affection. To care for a person is to know what mishaps he [or she] is subject to. Criticism, vigilance, watchfulness—[these are related.] When someone is close to another it's a way of saying "I think you are worth criticizing." The person we care for the most is the person we want to be most critical of.

I love these sentences—they put together great warmth and careful thought. In marriage, I learned, two people have the rich opportunity and the deep obligation to be fair together to the world outside themselves—so that in every conversation, in the way speak about other people, answer the phone, touch objects—this world is respected more, not less.

Ellen Reiss writes in The Right of Aesthetic Realism to Be Known #1276, "To want passionately to see what a person or thing deserves, to use oneself in order to give what that thing or person deserves, it to have both enormous feeling and a terrific dispassionate accuracy." And she asks: "Do you think if you are trying to be just, you will feel warmth and coolness make sense to you at last?"

I have seen in my happy marriage, as women are seeing now in Aesthetic Realism consultations—the answer is YES! 


Continued — Part 2, click here
 Copyright © 2000-2015 Barbara Allen, Aesthetic Realism Consultant