Thursday, November 13, 2014

"It Will Be Annabel November"
—a poem by Eli Siegel

A poem whose music I have loved since I first read it years ago is "It Will Be Annabel November." Now, in November 2014, I am looking at it freshly, and am moved by it again.

Eli Siegel said, in a note to this 1926 poem in his first collection Hot Afternoons Have Been in Montana: Poems:
Annabel is a person; also a way of being. I found that feminine names could stand for, indeed, had to stand for, a way of the universe and a way of taking the universe: it all arises from the primitive and historical tendency to see femininity as logic and abstraction.
Here's how the poem begins:
We shall have, Annabel,

In November this,

With the changing of trees,

And the changing of skies,

And the changing of sun,

And the changing of all.

You will smile other, Annabel,

Feel other, Annabel,

Look on the past other, Annabel....

This Annabel IS a woman—and more. She is affected by, stirred by, the surrounding world—a world of evenings, trees, leaves falling to earth. And she becomes a quality of reality itself, and adjective describing what reality is and has: "it will be Annabel November." With so much more to say about this richly musical poem, I simply want others to know of it. You can read the whole of it on the Aesthetic Realism Online Library.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

"Education—What For?" An Urgent Seminar
for Teachers, November 6 in NYC

Teachers all over the US and Canada are rightly outraged at the state of education in our schools today. Reading about the increasingly organized teachers' coalitions now combating the corporate-imposed, legislatively-sanctioned culture of testing is inspiring, and I respect them very much!

Still, the central question about teaching and learning must be asked—and answered—in order for education to succeed in the fullest sense: in order for students to love learning.

This will take place at an urgently needed seminar at the Aesthetic Realism Foundation in New York City on November 6: "The Aesthetic Realism Teaching Method Succeeds, & Answers the Question "Education—What For?" I'm proud to have used this exciting, practical method in my English classes for nearly 30 years, and I can say with confidence that it can change what goes on in every classroom for the good of students and teachers alike.

The announcement for the seminar begins:
AMERICA’S SCHOOLS are in tremendous turmoil, and in this desperately needed public seminar you will hear the solution. You’ll hear the convincing answers to questions which plague students and which teachers dread: “Why should I learn long division? What do I need history for?”—or earth science—or Shakespeare? Amidst new “standards” and relentless testing, a boy repeating 4th grade in the Bronx asks himself, “What’s the matter with me? Am I dumb? Will I ever be able to learn?” A frustrated 3rd grader asks her mother, “Am I learning math just to pass an exam?”

New York school teachers, using examples of actual classroom lessons, will show how the Aesthetic Realism Method enables young people to succeed—to learn with true pleasure, and also meet the feared “rigorous” academic standards with greater ease.

That is because Aesthetic Realism explains definitively the what for? of education, its purpose. "The purpose of education," Eli Siegel, the founder of Aesthetic Realism, explained, "is to like the world through knowing it." And he identified the greatest impediment to learning: contempt, "the addition to self through the lessening of something else."

This is the groundbreaking principle on which the Aesthetic Realism method is based: "The world, art, and self explain each other: each is the aesthetic oneness of opposites." At this event, NYC teachers will give examples from their classes of how lessons based on this principle make learning come alive!

 To read the entire announcement, click here. 

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

How a Woman Hopes to See & Be Seen

I'm very glad to point readers to a recent issue of the periodical The Right of Aesthetic Realism to Be Known, which publishes one of the kindest instances of writing about what women hope for as to the way we see ourselves as both body and mind: the essay by Eli Siegel "The Everlasting Dilemma of a Girl." The way he describes a young woman—with thoughts about herself, her mind, her attractiveness, her effect on men—is beautiful, and as I read it, I felt understood.

In her commentary introducing and placing the cultural value of this important essay, Aesthetic Realism Chairman of Education Ellen Reiss writes:

...The essay was written half a century ago. In these decades there have been big improvements as to how women have been encouraged to use our minds. Women today are certainly more able than once to be expressed in every field, from law to medicine to policing to government to space travel. Yet the dilemma Mr. Siegel writes of is with us still, as tormentingly as ever. A woman today may want to look as attractive as she can and also be as educated as she can—yet she does not see these two possibilities of herself as deeply coherent, of a piece, of the same unified self. She does not see them as having the same purpose.

Here I quote, with enormous gratitude, something Mr. Siegel said in an Aesthetic Realism lesson many years ago. It is about a matter connected with the “everlasting dilemma of a girl”: it is about the opposites of body and intellect. He was speaking to a man I had to do with then, who was confused by both me and himself, as I was. Mr. Siegel said:

In the field of corporeal expression or enjoyment, or sex, we hope to be proud and pleased at once. Ellen Reiss hopes to be proud about her manner of taking earth—in the same way as she would take the page of a book. The difference between the two things is felt by man and woman: I’m a different person making love from him or her who goes after knowledge. Do you think if Ms. Reiss could solve this problem of somatic expression and cerebral expression, you could? Do you think, then, that the fate of man depends on the fate of woman?

Aesthetic Realism makes possible, for both man and woman, what has eluded people for centuries. It makes possible at last the proud feeling that what we’re after as body and how we use our intellect go together, are an integrity....

This matter, I know from my own life, doesn't stop affecting a woman after she's no longer in her glorious and often confused youth. I'm a happily married woman, interested in love and all that goes with it, as well as intellectual pursuits. Studying Aesthetic Realism has had me feel more integrated than I ever could have been, and feel I'm the same person thinking about literature and being with my husband Alan. I know I can feel this more and more.

I want every woman, and every man hoping to understand women, to read this great issue of The Right of Aesthetic Realism to Be Known!