On this site you will be exploring the place of aesthetics in anthropology and sociology.

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Rainbow in the Valley: Papua New Guinea


Anthropology Class taught by Dr. Arnold Perey.

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Anthropology is about you, whether you live in a NY apartment or a mountain home in Papua New Guinea. The founder of Aesthetic Realism, Eli Siegel, stated this principle--true for art and for people across the world: "All beauty is a making one of opposites, and the making one of opposites is what we are going after in ourselves." Study of this principle and its rich exemplification in the cultures of the world gives to anthropology the depth, kindness, and scientific accuracy that the human sciences need and are hoping for.

In this class we study diverse cultures and people, and their relation to ourselves--with aesthetics as the basis. As I have found, the principles of Aesthetic Realism enables the scientist to give full reality to the feelings of people from every culture and background, including one's. This knowledge can, and does, end racism and vastly increases kindness--a statement I make carefully, definitely, and with great hope.    Read more

Fall / Winter 2015
6:00 - 7:30 PM on Alternate Wednesdays
Taught at the Aesthetic Realism Foundation in New York City

Our basis is this principle of Aesthetic Realism by Eli Siegel: “The world, art, and self explain each other: each is the aesthetic oneness of opposites.”

September 23 Guilt, Anger, Pleasurein Kitchen, Living Room, Rainforest

A study of Levi-Bruhl’s classic Primitive Mentality in which we ask
—Do you, I, and all who can read this have primitive mentality, along with sophistication?

October 7 The Prehistory of the Computer

October 21 The African Diaspora, A People: Many & One

October 31 SATURDAY Kongo: Majesty and Everydayness

The class of WEDNESDAY October 21 meets SATURDAY the 31 st to study the exhibit on Kongo at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, with Marcia Rackow’s Visual Arts and the Opposites class at 11 AM.

November 18 Words Are Sophisticated and Primeval

Does the elemental structure of a word like “tїbba” (“mouth,” Northern Paiute) have the first forms of reality as its basis—in other words, the opposites that are in reality, oneself, and art?

December 2 Opposites Workshop in Anthropology

Selections from anthropological writing are discussed showing how true this principle of Aesthetic Realism is: “The world, art, and self explain each other: each is the aesthetic oneness of opposites.”

December 16 Hamlet and the Inevitable Ethics of the Human Self

Studying Eli Siegel’s great Hamlet: Revisited we consider what is universal in selves of all cultures, giving, along the way, a critique of Laura Bohannan’s misunderstood essay “Shakespeare in the Bush.”




Gwe, Young Man of New Guinea -- a Novel Against Racism:

   From the Novel: Her second was born an hour before dawn, when it was cold, in the Rainy Season. According to custom, the child was nameless for 27 days and was secluded with her in a birth house built in a quiet tree-covered place by her brother and herself.  

     Those 27 days she held the small being in her arms, taking turns with her sister who was secluded with her. Thus the most vulnerable days for the infant were taken care of, keeping the baby steadily warm in mountain weather, cold even indoors.  

     Bettiana looked at his soft skin, the color of sunny earth. She felt his fingers grasp at her, and while he sucked milk from her breast she felt, blissfully, "The world is so kind." Then, in the dark, her mind seemed to turn upside down, and she remembered how insultingly her husband had ignored her opinion in the garden. Again, he said the potatoes she was ready to harvest weren’t big enough yet! She cradled the infant closer and thought, "But my baby loves me." The babe seemed to reply by paddling its little arms in the air and gurgling.    Read more from chapter 1   

Wepil of Divana illustrating where these tiny carving tools come from: the jawbone of a nibbling animal
My anthropological novel, based on Aesthetic Realism, and culturally accurate
Stone axe, as used by a man of the Mountain Ok area to cut down a second-growth tree


Anthropological Journal Entries



An anti-prejudice book for children,
inspired by a traditional story of the Ndowe People of Africa.
Told and illustrated by Arnold Perey.

Illustration from "Were They Equal?" #3, Tortoise shouts, "Hello, my friend!"
Illustration from "Were They Equal?" #2
Illustration from "Were They Equal?" #3

Elephant and Hippopotamus were chatting one day, and Elephant said, "Have you heard, that little tortoise has been saying he's equal to us! What nerve!"

Said Hippopotamus, "Who, that pipsqueak? My foot is bigger than he is! And he's saying he's our equal?" He was angry.

Hippo was the biggest animal in the river and Elephant was the biggest animal on the land. At the thought of Tortoise calling himself their equal, they both laughed out loud...

 For more info


A Doctoral Dissertation Based on Aesthetic Realism

Showing That a Society of Papua New Guinea Has an Aesthetic Structure and Purpose

A man resting after agricultural labor

Man resting from work in traditional sweet potato agriculture. I took this
photo where I did field research, in Betiana hamlet of Oksapmin, in the Mountain Ok region of Papua New Guinea.


diamond dot for Aesthetic Realism: A New Perspective for Anthropology & Sociology"A New Perspective for American Anthropology"

Published in The Anthropologist (University of Delhi, India). That New Perspective is provided by Aesthetic Realism, the philosophy founded by American educator Eli Siegel.

"Consider the native people of 0kapmin, New Guinea....Do they have two opposite attitudes to the world—that it has been kind to them and the gods have been good, and also that it has rooked them?"

Read new explanation of what you hope to understand: What is culture shock, and do I have it in my everyday life? What's the cause? Do people have more emotions in common than I think?

diamond dot for Aesthetic Realism: A New Perspective for Anthropology & SociologyKinship: "Body and World in Oksapmin Kin Terms"

By translating the terms used for relatives, we see a junction of body and the natural world that's symbolic of what people hope for: that world and self join accurately and kindly. Read more

diamond dot for Aesthetic Realism: A New Perspective for Anthropology & Sociology"Idealism and Practicality: How Can a Man Have Both?"

Paper presented in an Aesthetic Realism seminar in which I discuss my own life and that of the great anthropologist Bronislaw Malinowski, using his famed Diary in the Strict Sense of the Word, written in New Guinea 1914-1918. This paper is about the division in every person between being "practical" and "idealistic." I suggest in this paper that Malinowski, who was very courageous in the Diary, wanted to resolve this division in his tremendous contribution to anthropology, Functionalism.    Read more

Some Resources I Like & Recommend
bulletAmerican Anthropological Association
bullet Drama Meets Science: The Aesthetic Realism Theatre Co.
bulletThe Tremendous Meaning of Literature and Criticism
bulletAesthetic Realism Theatre Company
bulletAesthetic Realism Foundation
bullet"Arrows of Melanesia: A Neglected Art Form"

Depsin is one of the men I liked and respected during my field research
in the Mountain Ok area of Papua New Guinea

* Images from Papua New Guinea on this site are photographs taken by Arnold Perey.

Copyright © 2001-2015 by Arnold Perey. All rights reserved