Aesthetic Realism, Founded by Eli Siegel,
Provides a New Perspective for Anthropology & Sociology

Anthro TECH Site of the Month Award
A Novel Against Racism  
By Arnold Perey

Book 1. The Meeting

Chapter 1. Gwe Is Born  

Eli Siegel   What is the biggest question about birth?    
Arnold Perey   I don’t know.   
Eli Siegel   To whom does the child belong?   
                         — From an Aesthetic Realism Class

      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.  

     When the day of presentation arrived, the 28th day, she brought the baby out into the world—into daylight for the first time. Son in her arms, she presented the baby to the families of her husband and herself, and the neighbors, who gathered at her door. She showed the father the delicate hands and feet, refined ears, and the baby’s private parts. Everything was perfect. The name of the person to whom this everything belonged was Gwe.  

     Itulieng saw his infant was sound—a man-baby. He felt afraid of touching it, but his thoughts were warm: "Here is Gwe, son of Itulieng, child of the Nkuma clan." His feeling also was, inside himself, "This baby belongs to me."  

     Meanwhile, Bettiana had thought, in the dimness of the hut, when the baby was at her breast, "Let my husband keep the older boy. Let him teach that boy to think only of himself. Let him teach that boy not to listen to women! This dear baby is mine!"  

     Outside there was the celebratory gathering, with food. A lean woman, Gwe’s father’s sister, laughed and slapped her friend, again and again. Gwe’s grandfather smiled in his wiry white beard—a strong man now frail who wouldn’t live to see the baby grow big. Men were smoking. Children were running in and out for tree bark to make little fires and roast bits of meat. The steaming pork was brought out of the earth-oven, unwrapped from the banana leaves, spice ferns were picked off and munched, and at length tender sweet potatoes were brought out of the mass. The meat was given away.  

     As the neighbors and relatives took home their portions, cooked in savory herbs, to eat privately, they felt, "This baby is ours."  

     Overhead, leaves were rustling critically and the tall grass rising near the hut in a broad field was whispering, as if to speak. It was a fine transitory sunlit hour before the rain fell.  

     As Gwe became an older boy he would sometimes stop and meditate appreciatively on the tall grass rippling over his head in the wind. He liked its tallness when it stood still in midday heat, and when it blossomed, and it seemed to fly plumes at the end of high stalks, tinged with a gold light at sunset, he felt ravished.  

     At such times, and when he would see the dark irregular outline of the mountains around his home, meeting the sky, the edge of the world would claim him: "He is mine," it would say, and he would hear it.   

back to top
image of book cover

Gwe Is Born   
The Attack  
Five Years Later
Alan Comes to New Guinea  
Equality & Difference 
A Story of Famine

You can order this book directly from Waverly Place Press, or from Google Books or


See: Aesthetic Realism: A New Perspective for Anthropology & Sociology
About Arnold Perey
Aesthetic Realism Foundation
Aesthetic Realism Online Library
Aesthetic Realism Consultations
The Aesthetic Realism Teaching Method
What People Say: Links to Aesthetic Realism Resources
John Singer Sargent's Madame X, an Aesthetic Realism Discussion
Barbara Allen: Aesthetic Realism Consultant, Flutist
Friends of Aesthetic Realism--Countering the Lies

Anti-Racism Resources:

See articles by writers whom I esteem. Writing by Ellen Reiss, the Aesthetic Realism Chairman of Education, includes her "Difference and Sameness: The Human Question" and "Racism Can End."

Nancy Huntting is represented by her "On Racism & How to End It".

See Capt. Allan Michael's "It Is In Contempt That the Root of Racism Lies" and Alice Bernstein's book, Aesthetic Realism and the Answer to Racism.

Articles by New York teachers who demonstrate how the standard curriculum, K-12, can be used to encourage kindness include: "Prejudice Changes to Respect" and "Students Learn, Prejudice Is Defeated!"

back to top

Copyright © 2004-2017 by Arnold Perey