Aesthetic Realism
A New Perspective for Anthropology & Sociology

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Rainbow in the Valley: Papua New Guinea

Anthropology Is about You & Everyone, taught by Dr. Arnold Perey. People everywhere in the world, including yourself—whether you live in a NY apartment or a pandanus-roof home in Papua New Guinea—can at last be understood with the depth, kindness, and scientific accuracy that humanity so needs. This class shows that it's through the principles of Aesthetic Realism, founded by poet, critic, and educator Eli Siegel that the full reality of a person's feelings—your feelings—can be seen truly. This is the knowledge that can end racism and prejudice, as well as ill will and cruelty in homes, economies, and among nations—a statement I make carefully, definitely, and with great hope.

Here are the three great principles on which this study is based, stated Mr. Siegel:

1. The deepest desire of every person is to like the world on an honest or accurate basis.

2. The greatest danger for a person is to have contempt for the world and what is in it. Contempt can be defined as the lessening of what is different from oneself as a means of self-increase as one sees it.

3. All beauty is a making one of opposites, and the making one of opposites is what we are going after in ourselves.

As I've had the privilege to describe since the 1970's, this unparalleled understanding of the human self—the self which is in common among and underlies all cultures—makes relevant to people living today the work done by anthropologists for generations—from Tylor, to Spencer and Gillen, to Grinnell, to Benedict, to Herskovits, to Lorna Marshall, to the latest work of scholars and activists. 

To register or audit / call 212-777-4490
For information [beginning date, fee, etc.]


Taught by Arnold Perey
Aesthetic Realism Foundatio

Japanese Actor by Sharaku Veddas  or Wanniyalaetto of Sri Lanka The great Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce The Wooden People of Olmec 

Fall / Winter 2014
6:00 - 7:30 PM on Alternate Wednesdays



There is a hope in the human sciences to have a really accurate, truly adequate description of the self. This principle by Eli Siegel, “All beauty is a making one of opposites, and the making one of opposites is what we are going after in ourselves,” is that accuracy, that profound scientific adequacy. It belongs with Einstein’s E=mc2 in its power to explain otherwise unintelligible specifics in the widest possible field. The current semester is based on that great principle.

1. September  24  A Feeling Is a Fact In New Guinea Rainforest & New York Kitchen

That feelings are facts means we can study them like any other facts. Like the humidity of a clear day, a feeling has its causes and its effects. What are they? What laws govern them? This semester looks into these questions.

2. October 8  Love and War on the American Plains: Dakota, Cheyenne, Blackfeet

3. October 22  Notions We Have in Common with Early People Including, Who’s a Friend or Foe?

4. November 5 Strong & Graceful: Great Women of Korean Folklore

5. SATURDAY November 29   The Museum, the Hut, the Tent – & Respect for Beauty
[NOT Wednesday, NOVEMBER 19]

We meet with The Visual Arts and the Opposites class taught by Marcia Rackow at a Museum to be announced in New York City, 11 AM.

6. December 3  For and Against in Well-Told African Tales

7. December 17 Students Speak on the Place of Aesthetics in Anthropology



Gwe — Young Man of New Guinea: A Novel Against Racism

By Arnold Perey, Ph.D., Anthropologist and Aesthetic Realism Consultant

diamond dot for Aesthetic Realism: A New Perspective for Anthropology & SociologySee a sample announcement for a multimedia reading of selections from GWE—presented with slides and musicwhich a library near you can request.

bulletRead chapters from Gwe. Find out how Aesthetic Realism has you see and feel the earth of New Guinea, the emotions of Gwe and his people—there, in the mountains of this magnificent Pacific island.

Gwe, Young Man of New Guinea: A Novel Against RacismIntroduction
Chapter 1. "Gwe Is Born"
Chapter 2. "The Attack" 
Chapter 3. "Five Years Later" 
Chapter 8. "Alan Comes to New Guinea"  
Chapter 12. " Equality & Difference"
Chapter 16. "A Story of Famine"  

diamond dot for Aesthetic Realism: A New Perspective for Anthropology & SociologyYou can order this book from Waverly Place Press. See for more information



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 the book III
Illustration from the book II
Illustration from the book I

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... See for more information


About Papua New Guinea & People of the Mountain Ok

Man resting from work in traditional
sweet potato agriculture. I took this
photo 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)

"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?"

This article has a new explanation of matters that people want to understand: What is the cause of culture shock? What emotions do people have in common? Can these be described accurately? Can the prejudices that men and women have in every country end once and for all?

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 world that is symbolic of what people hope for: that world and self join accurately and kindly.

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

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, the functionalist approach..

Some Resources I Like & Recommend
bulletAmerican Anthropological Association
bullet Miner's "Body Ritual among the Nacerima"
bulletNew Perspective blog
bulletAesthetic Realism Theatre Company
bulletAesthetic Realism Foundation
bullet"Arrows of Melanesia: A Neglected Art Form"
bulletLink to Anthro.Net bulletPelagus literature
bulletWeb Directory: FastSearch bulletDirectory of Social Science related websites.

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

*These images from Papua New Guinea are photographs taken by Arnold Perey.


Copyright © 2001-2014 by Arnold Perey. All rights reserved