Through Study of Aesthetic Realism
[Including: Aspects of Inuit Culture and Its Relation to People Everywhere ]
By Arnold Perey, Ph.D.
Children's minds are waiting for a way to like the world they were born into.
It is so easy for children to feel the world doesn't make sense when their parents approve and punish in confusing ways; when they see unfairness in the school yard and take part in it themselves; when they know the government spends millions on weapons, while poor people suffer and get no help.
In The Right of Aesthetic Realism to Be Known, No. 12, Eli Siegel writes, "Education has as its purpose the bringing out at its strongest of man's unquenchable desire to see the world as friendly .... Many more facts and organizations of fact making this world likable, are in the world than are known." Children's minds are waiting to see the oneness of opposites in reality, as a means of putting these opposites together in themselves.
The Way to Like Oneself
I also used my mind, very keen at noticing flaws in my parents and others, to have contempt for them as hypocrites and to build up a case that the world didn't suit me. Because of my contempt, I went through what young people suffer today, including taking drugs, feeling worthless, and feeling increasingly that what I was looking for in this world did not exist.
I found what my mind yearned for when I met Aesthetic Realism in 1968. In Aesthetic Realism classes taught by Eli Siegel that were mighty, scholarly, and kind, I learned that the world has an aesthetic structure of opposites. And I learned what interfered with my own happiness. In a class, Mr. Siegel asked me, "Do you think you have a case against yourself?" "Yes," I said, "I do." Mr. Siegel asked, "Do you feel that you are fair to things outside Arnold Perey?" "Usually not," I answered. And I began to learn what only Aesthetic Realism teaches: that the way to like oneself is to know and be fair to the outside world.
Mr. Siegel taught me that in my love for and study of anthropology I was trying to do this. "in every person," said Mr. Siegel, "there is a simultaneous existence of the primitive and the now, or sophisticated." The deepest, beginning things, I learned, are the opposites: all people have them in common.
Inuit (or Eskimo) Life: Freedom and Restraint
A teacher might ask his or her class, Try to imagine what it feels like to live in the Arctic. It is ten to forty degrees below zero Fahrenheit during the winter. For months it is dark, the sun never coming above the horizon, just shedding a twilight and dawn glow. The land is snow- and icebound, and all one sees is whiteness and darkness. After staying many hours within the igloo, people have torn their clothing off and run unclothed onto the ice and snow, wandering there sometimes for long while. Also, people have felt stuck and simply rocked back and forth where they sat, for a long time. Both are called Arctic hysteria.
The Arctic hysterias have a relation to what students feel in classrooms. Writes Mr. Siegel in TRO 350, "Everybody is to a degree icebound, and crippled, and stuck, and jammed, and shut in .... What is it for a person to be free?" Children can feel the self studying neglects the self in action, and the self in motion does not include thought. if children could feel they were traveling as they read, their minds were in motion as their bodies were still, they would feel free while studying and wouldn't need to break loose.
Every game, I learned, is an attempt by the self to solve a philosophic problem. This is true of the Inuit game ring-and-pin. In one version, shown in Franz Boas's The Central Eskimo, you have an ivory carving of a polar bear with many holes and you swing it on its string to catch a hole on an ivory pin in your hand. You catch each hole ten times and are not supposed to miss. Motion and rest, freedom and order, are critical here - the same opposites central in Eskimo life.
They Are Waiting Now
Reprinted from The
Right of Aesthetic Realism to Be Known