|Given in a seminar at the Aesthetic
Realism Foundation, a not-for-profit
educational foundation in New York City, 141 Greene Street, in SoHo.
In The Right of Aesthetic Realism to Be Known,
Eli Siegel writes:
People want to have ill will and good will.
They want to fear,
hate, despise the world; and want truly to respect and love it. The
of man has begun with this. What he has done with good will and ill
liking the world or being against it, has affected everything in
lives. (Issue no. 77)
I've learned that if a man is to be confident he must be sure he wants
to like and respect the world to have good will which Aesthetic Realism
defines as, the desire to have something else stronger and more
because this desire makes oneself stronger and more beautiful". Good
I have learned, is not something soft or weak but it is the greatest
to have it a man must want to know the world, be for and encourage what
is good in people and be against and criticize his desire to defeat
have them weaker so he can feel superior. Only good will can have a man
integrated and whole and not feel as Eli Siegel once described to a
that the "rowboat of confusion will rock forever...never truly knowing
what represents him.
1. How People
I once felt to be confident of myself meant to be steady, dependable,
control of yourself, and to have no self-doubt. I didn't know there is
a self-doubt a person should have that comes from the feeling,
might not be fair to someone or something." I was arrogant and acted
I was up to any situation. To show uncertainty I felt was weakness. I
to impress people, get their approval, which I thought would have me
sure of myself. I remember the swell of pride I felt when I over heard
Ronnie Polonetti's mother say to him, "Why can't you be like
I did well in school, was good at sports, particularly
was a devoted son, nephew, cousin and grandson, especially at the
when I made sure to kiss every relative - and there were a lot of them
as they came to dinner at our house. And as I arranged myself and
welcomed words of praise, words I knew I didn't deserve, I became more
and more unsure of who I really was. I didn't feel the person praised
me. But I liked the feeling of power I was able to have over people,
women and the attraction of that was more important to me than knowing
myself. In The Right Of #76 Mr. Siegel writes:
...our attitude to other people concerns our
or unhappiness very much...whether or not we like the way we see people
is...a decisive thing in our own opinion of ourselves...The way we see
people is close to the way we see the world. Indeed how see people
out of how we see the world.
Though I seemed friendly and affable and at times really wanted to be
to people, I didn't like people so much and as I got older, they seemed
to be more and more an interference to me. I didn't want to get too
to anyone. Being affected made me feel less in control of myself, and
I went after love, my relations with women didn't last so long. Women
me. I felt they made me unsure of myself. On one hand women
to like me and show approval of me, but then they'd feel I wasn't
enough; that I was too selfish. I'd try to be nicer and please them but
it never seemed to be enough. When more was asked of me and I had to
myself, I'd get hurt and angry and often say to myself triumphantly, "I
don't need her anyway!" and move on.
In an Aesthetic Realism class Eli Siegel asked me "Is
there a desire
to annihilate? Are you a good eraser?" To dismiss people and what they
felt and any possible criticism they had of me, rather than want to
and be changed by them, enabled me to maintain a certain exalted
of myself which I associated with sureness. I felt people were
and that I was in a constant fight for what I thought was my self
Mr. Siegel asked me:
Do you want to get along with people or not?
One way of maintaining
individuality is not to. You think you save your soul by being in a
And he described what he called "the confusion of purpose formula"
was an exact description of how I saw people: "...these persons are
don't understand me and so I've gained something". Mr.
asked: "Which way do you want to gain something that way or by knowing
EDF: Knowing myself better
ES: You should say "Every person can tell me something
or you will want to find defects in everyone to build yourself up.
have lived and died never feeling they got along with anybody.
I love Eli Siegel for criticizing my desire to be
superior and for teaching
me a way of seeing people I could like myself for. My contempt had made
me very unsure of my value as a person. I'm very glad that now as an
Realism consultant I am deeply useful to the lives of men, encouraging
them to understand and like themselves. Some questions I've had the
to ask in consultations are:
-- As you arrange yourself to impress a woman does it
make you more
-- Do you think your self-doubt is a torment or perhaps
-- Are you proud of the affect you have on people?
-- Can you be unsure and still feel strong?
Men have lived their whole lives, achieved fame and
fortune and have
not felt really confident because they have not felt their effect on
was good. One such man, a man who is seen by many people as the
baseball player who ever lived, asked the man who collaborated with him
on his autobiography, "Do you think they'll remember me?" Shortly
at age 74, Ty Cobb died of cancer. His life shows if a man doesn't have
good will for the world and people he will never be sure of
Continued >> "What
Is the Approval a Man Wants?"