Aesthetic Realism is a cult

  Who they are, how they operate • Written by former members

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Exclusive! A real Aesthetic Realism consultation

Now, for the first time, the general public can see what really happens in an Aesthetic Realism consultation! All consultations are taped and the student is given a copy in order to "study". Most former students have destroyed or discarded their tapes, or if they have them they're too embarrassed to have them made public. Such was the case with the former student in this consultation, but he did agree to let us print a typed transcript. He also requested that we change the names -- both his and the consultants' as well.

This is the student's fourth consultation in his quest to be cured of his homosexuality. It pretty much speaks for itself, but there are a few items of particular interest.

  • AR-speak. Their "AR-speak" is quite blatant. For example, they use the word "tremendous" nine times.
  • False dichotomies. The ridiculous either-or questions jump right off the page at you: "Well, did you think you were some weak, pathetic person, or do you think for those moments as you had some strong, aloof man crumble for you, yield to you, do you think you were something like the ruler of the world for those moments?"
  • Intolerance of differing opinions. Over at their CounteringTheLies website, the AR people shriek about how I'm supposedly lying when I say that they don't tolerate differences of opinion. This consultation shows just how well they do so. They pile all over the poor student for supposedly being "argumentative", when he's saying that he simply doesn't understand.
  • Worship us! Worship us! Most of the time in this lesson is spent demanding gratitude from the student toward Eli Siegel and Aesthetic Realism. In fact, you can see that the whole "cure" to homosexuality itself is based on the student's expressing fanatical gratitude to ES & AR. 

 

DT

Aesthetic Realism consultation of Brian Carson, August 31, 1987, with AR consultants Dale Warren, Dr. Norman Leeman, and David Townsend.

NL

Hello, Mr. Carson?

BC

Hello.

NL

This is Norman Leeman.

BC

Hello.

DW

This is Dale Warren.

DT

And this is Mr. Townsend. Hello, Mr. Carson.

BC

Hello.

DT

The first thing we'd like to tell you about is that there's been a great review, tremendous fine, honest review of the book The Aesthetic Realism of Eli Siegel and the Change from Homosexuality printed in the Long Island paper called The Beacon. It's Long Island's largest weekly circulation newspaper. And it was published in this week's issue, Thursday, August 27th issue. And the review was written by a man who was changed from homosexuality through the study of Aesthetic Realism. The man is Timothy Lynch. So we're very, very glad the paper has published this review informing people throughout the area of the book, its value, describing its contents, and also, uh, Mr. Lynch in the review talks about his own life and the effect of Aesthetic Realism and the study of Aesthetic Realism has had on him. So we're very glad for this and the fact that people throughout the Long Island area are seeing this review. Are you familiar with the New York and Long Island?

BC

No, I'm not at all.

DT

I see. Well, uh, part of New York, is, um, well, uh, New York City is on the very edge, end of Long Island, it's technically part of Long Island, and the rest of the, outside of the city is all the suburbs of Nassau County and Suffolk County. Um, and again this is the largest weekly circulation paper on Long Island. So, it's a very fine thing and I hope you'll be hearing more about it. One thing that Mr. Lynch says in the review is that this book should be in every single school library in the country and I agree with him, and he also gives his opinion of Mr. Siegel as being unparalleled in history with his desire to know, his scholarship, and his understanding of the self and mind of man. So it's a great review, we're very very glad for it.

BC

Congratulations.

NL

Well, it's congratulations, yes, but this is something tremendously important and beautiful that happens that we don't know how many thousands of people including homosexual men will read this and have a chance to know the knowledge you're learning and to change their lives so, so much. So it's very, very important.

DW

And it's important for your life too, Mr. Carson, because it is a means of your self being backed up, your high opinion of Mr. Siegel and Aesthetic Realism being encouraged as it should be, and the point is that this article should have -- well, it should have been sooner, it should be in other newspapers, and it will -- and meanwhile, this is an important development. So we wanted to ask as this consultation begins, what stood out for you in your last consultations?

BC

Well I think the thing that stood out for me most was when you told me the thing that any homosexual feelings I had toward another man would be contempt, or ill will, toward him.

DW

Yes.

BC

I don't think I fully understand it yet, but I think that's the thing that most, you know, hit me most.

DT

In what way did it affect you, when you say that's what stood out the most, what do you mean?

BC

Well, I guess it's the thing that, you know, you told me that I would be most surprised at, because I didn't see it as ill will or contempt before.

NL

So why do you think, Mr. Carson, you always felt so badly about the homosexual feelings you had, had the shame, and you want so much to change them? Not to have them any more? If you just had them in your mind certainly society didn't know about them. I don't think you told anybody. And yet it made you feel very not good. Dirty. I remember having these feelings myself, for years. So why do you think that something in yourself was so against that, so ashamed of it?

BC

Because, I felt that, um, I knew it was wrong inside.

DW

But what do you think that comes from, the feeling that it's wrong inside?

BC

Well, the part of me, the conscience, that wants to do what's right and what's just.

DW

So do you think that what's right and what's just has to do with respect and contempt?

BC

Yes.

DW

And do you think that when a person feels he hasn't done something right, it comes from -- and this is made conscious through the study of Aesthetic Realism -- but that it's because a person has been unjust to another person or the world?

BC

Right.

DW

And that is contempt.

DT

So do you think that is true? As you thought about it you said that's what affected you, what we said, but do you think that's true about your life? Do you think that as you've thought about men in the past, do you think your purpose was to respect them and the world more, or to have contempt for them, as you thought about them that way?

BC

It was, it was for contempt.

DT

Okay. So how do you see that? So how do you see that being true about your life?

BC

Because, um, because I wasn't trying to respect them or the world more.

DT

And in what way -- as you thought about this, what did you think about it? How were you not trying to respect them more?

BC

[silence]

DT

Do you think that you wanted to know, uh, a man as you thought about him?

BC

No.

DT

So do you think you were interested in using him for your, uh, pleasure of feeling for those moments that you were the most important, powerful thing in the world? As he crumbled for you, as you conquered him in your mind?

BC

[silence]

DT

[slighty annoyed] Do you think you were not interested in knowing him, but interested in using him to make yourself superior?

BC

Well I was interested in, ah, you know, using him for my own purposes. But I really have a hard time with, you know, "trying to make myself superior".

DT

So what was your purpose? What were the purposes that you're referring to?

BC

Well, for pleasure, for sexual pleasure.

DT

Right. Now, what was the nature of the pleasure? Do you think that the nature of the pleasure -- do you think that as you had pleasure thinking about a man, did you like yourself for the pleasure you had?

BC

No.

DT

All right. It's crucial for a person to get all the pleasure he can in this world, and at the same time respect himself for it. That's what Aesthetic Realism says. Our purpose is to have all the pleasure the world can give us, all the pleasure we can get from the world, and simultaneously think more of ourselves and the world as a result. So do you think your purposes, as you thought about a man that way, do you think you were interested in who he was?

BC

No.

DT

So then do you think you were, as you thought about a man, and you conquered him in your mind, had your way with him, do you think you felt then more more important?

BC

[silence]

DT

For those minutes...

BC

I...I don't know if I did or not.

DT

Well, did you think you were some weak, pathetic person, or do you think for those moments as you had some strong, aloof man crumble for you, yield to you, do you think you were something like the ruler of the world for those moments?

BC

Yeah, but I guess I don't see him crumbling, either.

DW

Well he was doing what you wanted him to do, right? He had no say in the matter?

BC

Well...it wasn't like I forced him.

DT

No. As you think about having your way with a man...

BC

Yeah?

DT

...do you think the height of the pleasure is feeling that for those moments that you're affecting him, he's almost mindless about you? He's in such a state of excitement and frenzy that he's almost mindless about you?

BC

I have a hard time seeing that, or thinking that I feel that way.

DT

Well, as you think about a man and a man yields to you, unless you do to him whatever you want, is he just cool, or is he all worked up? In your mind as you think about him?

BC

He's probably worked up.

DT

Probably?

BC

Well yeah...

DT

Let's, come on, what are we talking about? So he's worked up.

BC

Right.

DT

And what is he worked up over, the cornfields, or you?

BC

Me.

DT

You. So do you think for those moments you're having, you're making somebody all worked up, all in a fluster, not sensible, and certainly not cool and calm? Do you think that's true?

BC

Yeah.

DT

So do you think for those moments you feel more powerful, because of the effect you're having on a person?

BC

[pause] Okay...

DT

Do you get the mailman to respond that way? Or do you get someone in the local supermarket to respond that way when you buy the groceries? Or are they more sensible about you then?

BC

Sensible.

DT

That's right. So do you think as you're thinking about somebody in a homosexual way, and you're, and the person's getting worked up, do you think for those moments you're getting somebody who seems to be strong, otherwise cool, otherwise sensible, for those moments he's in a whirlwind over you.

BC

[long pause] Okay, I never really thought about it...

DT

Well, is that, is that what, does that, is that what happens as you think about a man?

NL

And in the last consultation you mentioned a man named Pete, is that right?

BC

Right.

NL

Now, and he's been used in your mind, is that right?

BC

Right.

NL

He was an instance you gave. At the moment after there has been getting what you wanted, as you call it, pleasure, how did Pete look after?

BC

I never really think about it.

NL

But, do you think that right after the sexual expression, however it was come to, with it or without him, do you think he looked stronger to you or weaker?

BC

[silence]

NL

Do you think that -- I don't know just what went on in your mind, and uh things are different, but -- do you think you looked over at him and there was a person there who he cared for more deeply or there was a conquest lying there when you were finished?

BC

[pause] I'd have to say neither, you know, neither stronger nor weaker.

NL

Well, uh, put it another way, would you want Pete to know your thoughts...

BC

No.

NL

about him? Why?

BC

Well because he's heterosexual.

DW

Well, even if he was homosexual do you think you'd be proud of your thoughts?

BC

No, I guess not..

DT

All right. So why are you not proud of your thought? Do you think the thought is kind, as you think about him sexually? Do you think you're kind or do you think you're selfish?

BC

[pause] Uh...probably selfish.

DT

Selfish. So do you think whenever we're selfish we're using the world, and a representative of the world, to be selfish, do you think we'll have to be against ourselves?

BC

[pause] You said...what?

DT

Do you think whenever we use the world, a representative of the world -- and Pete is a representative of the world, right? -- do you think whenever we use a representative of the world to be selfish, do you think we have to be against ourselves?

BC

Yes.

DT

That's right. The objection to homosexuality which is one form of selfishness -- it's not the only form of selfishness but it is one of the forms of selfishness humanity can go after -- whenever we are selfish, we're against ourselves because of an ethical reason. The self is deeply ethical. We're meant to like the world, to be fair to the world, to give, to see meaning in things. And when we don't want to see meaning in the world, but use it for narrow purposes, the whole self will object. And the objection to homosexuality has got nothing to do again with society -- we've talked about this before...

BC

Right...

 

DT

The objection that you, that you feel to homosexuality that you feel Mr. Carson, comes from the best thing in you: ethics. That in you that says you are meant to like the world, the world that made you, and the world that is in you now. I'd like to ask you something else: Did -- you studied -- did you listen to the last consultation? I'll be direct. Did you actually listen to it?

BC

Yes.

DT

Did you like yourself for the way you talked, the way you listened?

BC

Uh, well, I thought I sounded...I didn't think I sound like myself.

DT

In what way?

BC

Well I, um, I guess I thought, when I talk to you, it seems like it's, um...I don't know how to explain it but, I don't sound as much like myself as I think.

DW

Well you're talking about the sound of your voice and Mr. Townsend is talking about how you answered the questions.

BC

[silence]

DT

As you listened to yourself did you like the way you answered questions and even the way you asked questions?

BC

No.

DT

Did you, do you think the reason you didn't like yourself was because you were really, sincerely trying to see something, or because you were being argumentative for the purpose of not seeing what is true, and in fact thwarting?

BC

Well, I guess, maybe it would be, if I tried to, I guess I would have to say I was disappointed in myself for not catching on quicker.

DT

Yeah, but do you think there was anything argumentative? See a person can not understand something and they can say, "I don't understand this." When I began to study Aesthetic Realism I wanted to see, but I also made a mistake in wanting to be superior.

BC

So you think I'm trying...

DT

No, I'm talking, I'm talking about myself for the moment. But I had gone through schools and I felt that I, well, had a certain sense of myself, I thought I was fast and clever, uh, bright. And the idea that I did not know Aesthetic Realism and the tremendous knowledge that Eli Siegel had came to -- on one hand I was grateful that Aesthetic Realism was so big there was something for me to learn -- and it was true about me, I was grateful for that. But on the other hand, I made the stupid mistake of resenting the, the size of Aesthetic Realism and the fact that there was something new for me to learn. And do you think anything like that is going on in you?

BC

Yes.

DT

All right. Do you think, do you think you like yourself for the way -- do you think you were argumentative in a way in that last consultation?

BC

Yes.

DT

All right. I think you were. And we were ready to ask... answer questions that you had about Aesthetic Realism. That's our purpose, to teach a person Aesthetic Realism so they can have the lives we've got, and the kind of life Mr. Lynch is writing about, for the people all over Long Island to see, his life, in that review. But, do you think something went on in you that said, "I shouldn't be so grateful. I, Brian Carson, shouldn't be so grateful. I shouldn't show there's something new for me to learn. Let me see if I can very carefully thwart, and instead of answering a question, ask another question on top of it!" You know, the "but if" question. "What about..but if this...what about that?" Do you think you were doing something like that in the last consultation?

BC

Well it's possible but I really was having a hard time understanding.

DT

Right, but do you think it, when you don't understand something, do you like the idea that there's something new for you to learn, or do you get angry?

BC

I guess I get angry.

DT

Do you think that's smart or do you think it's gonna cause trouble?

BC

Cause trouble.

DT

Right. Because think about it this way: If Aesthetic Realism was something you already knew...your life, you've got a situation in your life you want to change, homosexuality...

BC

Right.

DT

Right? So if what you know already, what you've met all these years, had helped you in this field, you wouldn't be homosexual, right?

BC

Right.

DT

So what's your hope? Does your hope lie in Aesthetic Realism being just what you already knew, or Aesthetic Realism being new, and big, and explaining things you haven't understood, though you've been troubled by them?

BC

I want it to be new and big and explain things...

DT

That's right. Meanwhile, that's the very thing that got you annoyed, right?

BC

Right.

DT

So do you think that you should be the first one that says, "Gentleman, wait a minute, I don't understand this, let me ask you another question if I may," -- respectfully, directly, we want to hear questions. But do you think either you'll say, "I don't understand this and I want to, so much..."

BC

All right...

DT

Or, you're gonna say, to yourself, "Hey, I don't like appearing like I don't know everything around, and who are they to know so much more than me? So I'm gonna act as if I want to understand something, but I'll try to fight them along the way." Do you think either you'll be glad that there's something that there's new for you to learn, and grateful, or are you gonna get angry?

BC

Well, I'm grateful that there's something to learn but I guess, I guess, I don't know, I'm disappointed in myself sometimes if I don't understand it...

DT

Now that sounds noble...

BC

...as quick as I wanted.

DT

Yeah, that sounds noble, you were disappointed in yourself. But do you think you were just disappointed in yourself, or do you think you wanted to -- I'll be direct -- do you think you wanted to punish us, because we are the ones teaching you Aesthetic Realism?

BC

[silence]

DT

See, what it comes to is this: Do you already respect Aesthetic Realism and Mr. Siegel more than you even thought you would when you called the Aesthetic Realism Foundation the first time?

BC

Well, I'm learning a lot about it, I guess I, I guess it's more than I thought it was.

DT

But I used the word respect. Do you think you, Brian Carson, respect Eli Siegel and Aesthetic Realism more than you even thought you would?

BC

[long pause] Yes.

DT

All right. So is that good news for you? That you've met something that's so big, true, and kind, that it has you feel so hopeful, and therefore you have so much respect, or is that bad news? That you've met something...

BC

Good news.

DT

That's right! But there's... Man's deepest desire is to respect the world. That's what we're, we're born, we're hoping every minute to have more respect. But there's something else in every person that says, "The hell I'll respect anything! I wanna be superior, even if I'm miserable and disappointed and bored, and least I'll feel there's nothing bigger than me, I'm superior than everything." That comes from contempt in man. And what we're saying is, is when a person has about three or four consultations as you have, they begin to see how big Aesthetic Realism is. And they begin to see that it's true, not just about homosexuality, but about the world as such, people, generally. It's true! And either they'll express their gratitude for this, or they'll turn their gratitude into anger. And I feel some of that went on in that consultation, Mr. Carson, and that's why we're being critical of it now, because it was wrong, and it's also hurting you, and we're saying, "Don't make the mistake of resenting the fact that you respect Eli Siegel more and more."

DW

And even this matter about your not seeing things or being slow. Do you think that's the thing you should emphasize? Because I think that's something that you're talking about again so you don't have to make too much about what you already know. I am sure, Mr. Carson, you are studying these consultations and you're, you're reading The Aesthetic Realism of Eli Siegel and the Change from Homosexuality. You know a tremendous amount. And I think you would be much smarter and for your life if you would talk about that, what you have seen, what you have learned. Yes, what you, also what you haven't seen and what you want to see more. But you've heard and you've seen a lot.

NL

Is that true Mr. Carson?

BC

Yes.

NL

Yes. And do you that think long, long before you met the Aesthetic Realism of Eli Siegel you were already very adept at the business of making everything look pretty much the same and as not coming to too much?

BC

Right.

NL

And do you think you built a whole importance to yourself, a whole personality on not finding the world so good, or worthy of very much respect? A world that wouldn't understand you, but a world you still could be superior to?

BC

Okay.

NL

And do you think that in, what you've heard and read yourself and see with your own mind that you do see, do you think you've already had that notion of the world questioned in a way it never has been questioned before? Do you think Aesthetic Realism has given you the feeling that you, Brian Carson, two things: one, is likely has been wrong about everything, and two, can really like this world and have an entirely different life? Do you think you've gotten both feelings?

BC

Yes.

NL

So do you think that you are tremendously, tremendously grateful that you met the Aesthetic Realism of Eli Siegel?

BC

Yes.

NL

What would have happend to you? And what we're saying is that desire to have contempt as a means of being important, that has run you all these years, that if you don't want to see it and criticize it yourself and find it a pleasure to do it, because it's like getting mud off of yourself, then there will be difficulty and Aesthetic Realism won't be able to do the good things it can do, and wants to do.

DT

After the consultation, two consultations ago, when Mr. Warren wasn't available to give the consultation, and you were told that the consultation couldn't be given that evening, remember that?

BC

Right.

DT

All right. Were you surprised when that happened?

BC

Yeah, a little bit, but I felt, you know, things come up....

DT

A little bit! Brian Carson, you know, you have a way of understating things. Do you think you were a little surprised. I'm, I'm not saying that you weren't understanding, but do you think that you were surprised?

BC

Yeah, I was surprised.

DT

Right, and...

BC

But...

DT

Hold on a second. But do you think as you were surprised, you also wanted to have the consultation?

BC

Well I definitely wanted it...

DT

That's right! Do you think not being able to have that particular consultation, I believe it was your second consultation, right?

BC

That would have been my third, I think.

DT

Third? So do you think that as you were ready to have the consultation that evening and then suddenly you were informed that due to unexpected occurrences Mr. Warren wasn't available that evening, uh, do you think you were both surprised and simultaneously saw more how much you want to know Aesthetic Realism, want to have consultations -- do you think in a way it forced you to see more about how much Aesthetic Realism already means to you?

BC

Well I have to say I was disappointed but I was...

NL

All right but this...

BC

...my very first one I missed because I got the times mixed up, you know, so I was disappointed then already too, you know, because it means a lot to me because you know, you're saying I can change from homosexuality, so it means a lot.

DT

But before you get to -- men have changed from homosexuality, that's a fact. We're three of the men, that's a fact.

BC

All right.

DT

The point we're making is that, do you think not being able to have that consultation had you feel, "Oh, I wish I could have it." And you know, I'm sure you went on and you did whatever...

BC

Yeah, I tried, I asked if we couldn't just, you know, the three of us...

DT

Ah ha! That's interesting. So you wanted to have a consultation with two consultations and yourself. All right. So do you think, do you see the point I'm making? That not being able to have that one had you see more, that, that something outside of you was good to you and you needed it. Have you gone through life liking the idea of needing what was not you?

BC

No, I didn't.

DT

So do you think this in any way pleased you, that you had met something that you care for increasingly, but do you think also it rubbed your ego the wrong way? That in you that said, "You shouldn't need anything. There's nothing in this world you can count on. Take care of yourself, Brian Carson, don't count on anything." ?

BC

Well that's very true.

DT

So do you think, you, got angry afterwards? Because in your next consultation, which was the last one, that's where you were, um, well, in a way being smug and argumentative.

BC

But I think, I think, really, I think that I wasn't understanding the way I wanted to.

DT

All right...

BC

I was being disappointed in maybe not in myself as much as...

DT

Yeah, but do you think you had a tone? See it's one thing not to understand, and we're all for explaining a principle...

BC

Right...

DT

...and talking about it until you see it yourself. Because you're the one that's got to see how Aesthetic Realism is true.

BC

Right.

DT

This is education. But do you think there was a tone you had, sort of a little annoyed, in that last consultation?

BC

[silence]

DT

Dr. Leeman would say something and then instead of you answering the question you would say, "What about this?! What about that?!"

BC

Well I guess, like, you're right, you said that I don't, maybe, you know, you're a little scared to believe that something might help me, you know?

NL

Well, but you see...

DW

You see we're saying, Mr. Carson, there's a way to meet something if there's an honest inquiry and an unsureness. And I think you listen to that consultation again in relation to your first consultation and you'll hear a difference. And there was, there was a way of coming back, instead of answering a question or asking, asking a question yourself to be clearer.

DT

You didn't -- let's put it this way -- you didn't sound just happy in the last consultation. You sounded a little annoyed.

BC

Okay.

 

NL

And it's interesting, this is the fourth consultation. You, you just said it meant a lot to you and it was a disap-- that it was a big disappointment to you. Which means the same that it had meaning for you.

BC

Right.

NL

Do you think you're just comfortable with that?

BC

[silence]

NL

Do you think that if you were to listen to your last consultation that you would have the, uh, uh, uh, objectively, just to listen for what's there, not because it's you, do you think you would be hearing a person who was acting as though what he was learning meant a lot to him, and that he'd be so disappointed if he couldn't hear what he heard, or would you hear a person that was pretty much, to use the word--I agree with Mr. Townsend--was argumentative, and what we're saying is there's a difference between not understanding something and there's another thing where a person is already not comfortable with the fact that something means more to them than they expected anything to mean, and so they're angry. So do you think that could be working in you?

BC

It could be.

NL

Yes. And do you think it is?

BC

I don't know. I really don't know. I really, you know, I just...

DT

So why do you think Mr. Carson you didn't begin this consultation saying this, something like this: "Gentlemen, before you begin the consultation I want to tell you how grateful I am to Aesthetic Realism and to Mr. Siegel, the founder of Aesthetic Realism, that I'm hearing the questions and the principles, and that you're teaching me this knowledge, because I'm seeing it -- there's a lot more for me to see, I don't want to pretend that I see everything, hardly, gentlemen! But I'm seeing how Aesthetic Realism is true, and I'm grateful! I've never been happier in my life! I've never had this much hope in my life! So I want to say that as I begin." Why do you...

BC

That's how you felt I should have started out?

DT

I'm asking you why do you think you didn't begin saying something like that? Do you think something like that is in Brian Carson?

BC

Yeah, yeah, I do have a lot of hope...

DT

I'm saying, you're saying hope I'm saying gratitude!

BC

Well, I am very thankful, but...

DT

Yeah...

BC

You know I don't feel like my life has really changed...

DT

Now wait a minute. We're not, right. You don't get to high noon without first a dawn.

BC

All right.

DT

Has dawn begun?

BC

Yeah.

DT

That's right, Mr. Carson! Dawn has begun in the life of Brian Carson. Because I know what it's like to begin studying Aesthetic Realism, and I know what it's like to begin the first weeks and begin to see things new. And you said after your first consultation you hardly wanted to end the consultation because you were telling us how you were thinking about...

[part missing as tape is flipped over]

NL

Okay.

BC

Well I thought read back from you guys that you didn't really like my string in talking about things that, you know, weren't in the, you know, what you guys brought up. You know, I thought maybe in that first consultation I went a little, I got off the subject, and it wasn't you know, things [inaudible]

DT

Things, things what? I didn't hear the last word you said.

BC

It wasn't...I shouldn't have done it.

DT

Oh no! We just...we had to conclude the consultation because there were others.

BC

All right.

DT

You know we weren't, oh no, not at all. We were glad to hear that! It was very important what you said.

BC

All right.

DT

That, it's, it's, for you to see your father, for you to begin to change the way you see your father is a tremendous thing, Mr. Carson. Meanwhile, I don't want to, uh, go away from the point I'm making. Do you think you lead with your gratitude, or do you think you keep it under wraps? As of...

BC

I keep it under wraps.

DT

So do you like yourself for that?

BC

No, but...

DT

Okay, hold on! You're, you don't like yourself for that!

BC

Right.

DT

Do you think you'd like yourself more, Mr. Carson, if you did show more your gratitude to the good that has already come to you? Much more good can come to you! But do you think you'd like yourself more if you expressed more of your gratititude?

BC

Yes.

DT

It's in a way it's, it's, I don't wanna, Aesthetic Realism is tremendous but to use a very everyday example, if you're in a store and you hold the door open for somebody, you do someone good, and they just walk through the door without and don't even say a word, do you think you'd feel there was something wrong with that person?

BC

Yes.

DT

And do you think that person would have the kind of emotions he's meant to have?

BC

No.

DT

And do you think he's hurting himself by not expressing gratitude for something as everyday as another person holding the door, doing good in that...

BC

Yes...

DT

That's right. So what we're saying is, you, good is already coming to you, express the gratitude for that good, don't keep it under wraps, the next step is to resent good coming to you. And to get angry at it.

BC

But doesn't this here have to do with also that, you know, uh, being affected by the world?

DT

I don't, uh, I don't follow what you're saying.

BC

Well like, like that book you told me to read...

DT

Portrait of a Lady?

BC

Yeah.

DT

Ah-hah.

BC

Well it's, the person, or the uh, heroine of the book is a lady...

DT

Isabel Archer?

BC

...very much affected by the world...

DT

Yeah....

BC

You know, and that's sort of the thing with me, I'm not affected by the world...

DT

You're not?

BC

Well, not to that degree.

DT

So?

BC

So, well, when, you know, people do kind things, or even mean things, it's like it doesn't affect me as much, because I, I dulled it, you know?

DW

Yes, but what we're saying, what we're asking Mr. Carson, and you should really be honest about this -- yes, we're sure that you're a person who's dulled the meaning of the world, no man is homosexual who hasn't done that. But, is that changing in Brian Carson?

BC

I hope so, I'm trying to make the change...

NL

But Mr. Carson, even the fact that you can say it, do you think that is already a tremendous accomplishment? Do you think six months ago you saw that the reason your life was so empty was because you, Brian Carson, took meaning away from people and things and the world itself, or did you think you were having the right emotion because the world didn't come to anything?

BC

You're right.

NL

So how grateful should you be? You should say, "Gentlemen, I'm seeing! And the seeing was further in a way I didn't expect through reading that Isabel Archer. That there's a way of seeing that person next to me in the supermarket. And that I'm seeing that there was a way I thought I would be magnificent if I made rubbish out of everyone. And I'm seeing that a little and it's so exciting, because I don't know what it will be, but I know it will be better!"

DT

Mr. Carson, are you ready for more criticism?

BC

Sure.

DT

All right. I think you were being tricky in what you just said.

BC

You said you think I'm being tricky?

DT

That's right. Shocking, isn't it? Shocking, I know, absolutely shocking that we think you were being tricky. For you to say that you don't, you're not deeply affected by things, that's an excuse to be ungrateful. It's saying, "Well I'm not moved by things, therefore..."

BC

Well, you're right...

DT

"...therefore...," -- Let me finish! It's saying, "...therefore I'm not affected by things, I've got a right to be ungrateful! I've got a right to act as if tomorow's dawn is meaningless. I've got a right to walk through that door when someone holds it for me and say nothing." It's tricky!

BC

Well you're right, but it's not like I woke up one day and thought....

NL

Mr. Carson! Do you think your whole life would be better if you got rid of the but's?

BC

Rid of what?

NL

The word "but"? Do you think you can get rid of it for five minutes?

BC

All right, we'll try it.

DT

Good.

NL

Because do you think every thought you have after the "but" is for the purpose of getting rid of everything you heard before the but? So when you're finished nothing will have happened?

BC

Okay...

NL

You've got a "but" for everything and I'm telling you, your but's are one of your worst enemies.

BC

Okay.

DT

So what I'd like to do -- you're hearing a lot of criticism, meanwhile it's very important because, and Mr. Carson take this seriously: a person either likes the gratitude they have as they study Aesthetic Realism -- in studying Aesthetic Realism a person has more and more gratitude. I'm more grateful to Mr. Siegel today than I was two weeks ago. I'm more grateful to Aesthetic Realism now than I was in 19xx with the life I've got. I'm married over five years, I see my wife, every time I see her I just feel she's one of the most beautiful thing walking in the doorway. And I never thought I would feel that about a woman. Never, never. And that's what I feel every day with the marriage I have. And it's Eli Siegel and his knowledge of Aesthetic Realism that makes that possible. So I am more grateful. Either a person likes being grateful and sees that a life is successful in proportion to how grateful you can be, or a person resents being grateful and says, "I don't want to be grateful to anything in this world outside of me. In fact I'll resent anything that has the possibility of causing gratitude in me." And a person when he has about three or four consultations -- we've seen this many times -- they either express their gratitutde, gladly, seeing it is at their success, their strength, or they begin to resent Aesthetic Realism, and we're saying, don't make that stupid mistake.

What I'd like to do is read a poem to you, a poem that Eli Siegel wrote. It's about the self, and the self, and the relation of the self to the world. Mr. Siegel is not writing this poem about you, hardly, he's writing this about humanity. I don't think we've read any of Eli Siegel's poetry to you, have we?

BC

No.

DT

All right. So this is one poem that we'd like to read. And it's, the title of the poem that Eli Siegel wrote -- and this is, by the way is from his collection of poetry, Hot Afternoons Have Been in Montana: Poems by Eli Siegel. And if you don't have this, uh, it's in hardback and paperback -- if you don't have this volume of poetry, ah, we would suggest very strongly that you get it, because you'll see more how Eli Siegel thought about people and objects, all kinds of situations of reality, and you'll know more of who he was, the way he thought, the way he saw things in people. So this is one poem from that volume, it's on page 64: "Must I Wait All My Life?", or "The Misery Song". That's the title. And there's a maxim or subtitle, "Uncouth and not anthem of the particular and general unconscious." And this is the poem:

Must I wait all my life for certain thing to happen?
Must I spend all my days just a-dozin', just a-nappin?
Isn't there to be a fire, won't some color come?
Am I blind? Have I no luck? Am I just plain dumb?
Must I wait all my life for a certain person's comin'?
Will I die my life gone and still a love tune hummin'?
Is my life to be empty, won't some real love come in it?
Is my life just to be one gray minute after minute?
God, I could scream, God, I could tear myself to pieces.
I'm the boredest human of the whole damn human species.
I could bite, I could cry, I am hell-tired of waitin'.
When the Lord made me he did some bum creatin'.
I listen for a sound but all I do is listen.
What other people get it always seems I'm missin'.
I'm in a deep unhappy ditch, I'm as miserable as sin.
Must I wait all my life, just for life just to begin?

So what do you think of that?

BC

Well I think it's the way I feel, a lot of the time.

DT

Well, how many people do you think have said that, or something very close to it when they were read that in a consultation.

BC

A lot.

DT

That's right.

NL

Mr. Carson as you heard that poem, do you feel the whole world looking better to you?

BC

Yeah.

NL

Why do you think that is?

BC

Because, um, because I can see that someone else felt the way I do.

DT

That's right.

NL

And that who you are, who you've worked to have so removed from the world, is really in the world?

BC

Who is that?

NL

Do you, do you feel less lonely through that poem?

BC

Yes.

NL

Well this is, this is a, are you grateful?

BC

Yes.

NL

And do you think that the same mind that could put those feelings of a person that people have felt into those sentences, into those lines which have music in them, do you think that's a mind that was friendly to your life?

BC

Yes.

NL

And do you think you have felt that pretty much from the beginning as you met Mr. Siegel's thought, either through consultations or more so as you read his words in The Aesthetic Realism of Eli Siegel and the Change from Homosexuality, that here is a mind that was friendly to my life?

BC

Yes.

NL

Are you grateful?

BC

Yes.

NL

Do you want to see and express that gratitude as much as you haven't?

BC

Yes.

NL

Well if you do, consultations will go well and your life will be different. This is what we're saying essentially. That you haven't wanted to. And it's held you back and it's, and it's curtailed the usefulness we could have for you.

DT

So we should conclude the consultation. I respect the answers that you're giving about this poem. Do you think the poem shows a self suffering because it doesn't like the world?

BC

Yes.

DT

That's right. And when I first heard this poem, it was in an Aesthetic Realism class in 19xx, and a woman was reading it in the class and my jaw nearly dropped open when I heard it, I thought it was beautiful...

BC

Because you felt, you were surprised that somebody else felt that way?

DT

That's right. I could never have described this about myself. I just couldn't put this, what I felt into words like this. It's beautiful, it's beautiful. But this is what I felt. And that Eli Siegel saw this about me and other people, had me feel related to other peope who I didn't even know, had me related to humanity. He was writing about humanity, not David Townsend. But my jaw nearly dropped open that Eli Siegel understood me, and I had never had the good fortune of meeting him directly. And it gave me great hope and I still, I love this poem, I think it's one of the most beautiful things in literature. So again that's in Hot Afternoons Have Been in Montana: Poems by Eli Siegel, and it's available in hardback and paperback and you should get this, there are other poems here that are beautiful, and is a way of seeing the world that is true poetry in this, in this collection poems and in other collections, other volumes that Eli Siegel has written.

So in concluding, you are still reading Portrait of a Lady?

BC

Right.

DT

All right. Now as an assignment, one assignment I would suggest for Mr. Carson has to do with his mother, the first woman he used to come to a picture of the world and a picture of other women and attitudes to other women -- would be for Mr. Carson, if my colleagues are in agreement, to take, uh, two letters, two words from every letter in the encyclopedia, two entries under the "A" section, might be adriatic and, well, Antigone, I don't know what it will be -- and write a sentence for each letter that would have in it each word, Gloria Carson, her name, Gloria Carson, and that word, adriatic, for example, to see that she's related to everything in the world. There's nothing in the world that Gloria Carson doesn't have some relation to.

BC

So it'll be, uh, two sentences for every letter?

DT

No, one sentence -- take each letter, "A" for example, right? But take two entries under "A" -- maybe it's adriatic, and another word under "A" may be, as I said, Antigone. Or maybe, uh...

DW

Apple.

DT

Apple. It could be something as ordinary as that. And for each of these two words, write one sentence having in it Gloria Carson and adriatic. And then write another sentence having in it Gloria Carson and apple.

BC

All right, so I have 52 sentences?

DT

That's right. And there are all kinds of things in the encyclopedia having to do with all kinds of businesses of reality. And that will be the assignment for the purpose that we're indicating, the principle that's involved, that your mother comes from the world, and Gloria Carson is related to everything in this world.

BC

All right.

DT

It's very different than the way you've seen her. So, also allow time for the mail. We've also told you about the tape library and you should be using that regularly, and studying tapes of public seminars that are in the tape library.

BC

All right, so who should I ask about like, which ones I should listen to?

DT

Well we gave you one title already....

BC

Yeah, I listened to it and I really enjoyed it, I really liked it.

DT

Good. All right. So, good. So, um, there, we, there is another, uh, seminar title we would recommend you listen to it is "Mothers...", I believe it is called, "Mothers, Fathers, and Homosexuality."

DW

Yes.

BC

All right.

DT

And that is a seminar that was given, well, maybe a year and a half ago. The date, you, you, the librarian will know what, uh, what tape you're referring to with that title, "Mothers, Fathers, and Homosexuality." I believe that is the, pretty much the title of it.

NL

Yes. Yes. Yes.

DT

And, um, also there is going to be a special performance on [date] which you may have gotten the announcement for already, a program called, "American Ethics, American Song: The Aesthetic Realism of Eli Siegel Explains Both". If it's at all possible for you to come to New York and see that performance, that show, it would be a very useful thing for you to do for your life. So we're not able to talk about that now, meanwhile that will also be in the tape library after the [date] performance. And I was at the first one on [date] and it was just too, it was swell.

NL

Very great.

DT

It was thrilling, thrilling. So we should conclude now, that would be the assignment, and if you wish to make an appointment at this time for another consultation we'll transfer the call to the consultation assistants.

BC

Okay.

DT

All right, so you want us to transfer the call now?

BC

Yeah, and I want you to know I'm really grateful.

DT

Well...

NL

Good.

DT

We're glad to hear it Mr. Carson, and, uh, keep expressing your gratitude, it's equivalent to liking the world outside of you. And we'll transfer the call.

BC

Thanks.

DT

You're welcome. Goodbye.

NL

Goodbye.

DW

Goodbye.

This page last updated March 2006.


Aesthetic Realism at a Glance

Name

The Aesthetic Realism Foundation

Founded

1941

Founder

Eli Siegel, poet and art/literary critic.
Committed suicide in 1978

Purpose

To get the world to realize that Eli Siegel was the greatest person who ever lived, and that Aesthetic Realism is the most important knowledge, ever.


Philosophy

The key to all social ills is for people to learn to like the world. Having contempt for the world leads to unhappiness and even insanity. (Their slogan is "Contempt causes insanity".) For example, homosexuality is a form of insanity caused by not liking the world sufficiently.

Also teaches that "beauty is the making one of opposites".

Location

New York City (SoHo)


Membership

About 106 (33 teachers, 44 training to be teachers, and 29 regular students). Has failed to grow appreciably even after 70 years of existence, and is currently shrinking.

All members call themselves "students", even the leaders/teachers. Advanced members who teach others are called "consultants".

Method of study

Public seminars/lectures at their headquarters (in lower Manhattan), group classes, and individual consultations (three consultants vs. one student).


Cult aspects

  • Fanatical devotion to their leader/founder
  • Belief that they have the one true answer to universal happiness
  • Ultimate purpose is to recruit new members
  • Feeling that they are being persecuted
  • Wild, paranoid reactions to criticism
  • Non-communication (or at least very limited communication) with those who have left the group
  • Odd, specialized language.

  • More about cult aspects...

A reader writes on Jan. 16, 2005:

Hello, I have never been involved with AR or any cult, but I wanted to send you a note responding to your site. I was made curious about the organization in the early 1990s when I had a job as a photographer's assistant in the building next door to AR's headquarters. I remember that something about the look of the building and the "literature" and posters displayed made me suspicious (I never did enter the place). Maybe my upbringing in Los Angeles around that other so-called "non-cult," Scientology, spurred both my curiosity and my suspicions. I can't remember what kind of research I did at the time, but somehow the anti-homosexual nature of the cult was revealed to me, and I began to tell people what I had discovered to be the truth behind that mysterious SoHo building masquerading as some kind of arts-related organization (as a student of both philosophy and poetry, I was particularly offended by the misappropriation of these pursuits....) After the passage of many years and a move to Brooklyn, I had forgotten all about AR -- until I found myself working the table of a small press I'm involved with at the International Small Press Fair in midtown Manhattan late in 2004. The AR people also had a table, right across from ours. They were hawking their new book that claims AR holds the answer to beating racism. (!) I spent the entire two-day fair stealthily checking them out, trying to figure out whether these were the hateful people I imagined -- I also started telling my friends again about what I had once learned about AR's dirty secret. But I kept disclaiming my statements, saying "I'm not sure about this, but somehow I have the idea that this is basically a disguised anti-gay cult." Since I didn't want to spread rumors, I decided to do a little research and hit upon your site. I just wanted to write you a note so you will know that a site like this can be interesting and valuable even to those of us who have never been involved in a cult. I see it as a matter of personal duty to discredit groups that spread false science and fuzzy logic. Thanks for putting up such a nice site, and I hope that it continues to help and inform.

AR book reviewed on Amazon.com

Here's someone who confirms what we've been saying: that Eli Siegel's ideas may have merit, the problem is in the way they're being promoted. This is an excerpt from a reader's review of Siegel's Self and World posted to Amazon.com in Sept. 2003:

"I don't see how [Siegel's] students in Soho (he has been dead for decades) have been able to turn what is found in this book and in Siegel's other writings (most of which I have read) to the rather dogmatic ends to which they put it. For example, they used to insist a few years ago (I don't know what they say nowadays) that this book was the greatest book ever written, and that Siegel was basically the greatest person who ever lived. And they would say such things without the least apparent smidgen of uncertainty, diffidence, or consciousness of the possibility that they might, just possibly, be mistaken. At least, the students I met were like that, and my sense of the situation was that they were typical of the students in general. They go around, or used to go around, with buttons saying, 'victimized by the press', because they felt that the mainstream press, the New York Times, the Washington Post should be reporting on Eli Siegel's writings and teachings. The fact that this was not happening, the students thought, was a kind of assault perpetrated on the students of Siegel's teaching, on the deceased Siegel, and on the human race itself.

"So, in my view, one should beware of the students, but read the book, it's a very important piece of writing, up there with the classics, I think, both in the high degree of perfection of its literary style, and in the simple beauty and yet profound complexity of its content. If you seek self-knowledge and profound knowledge of the world, there are few writers or books to compare with this one. Just don't stop with Siegel."

(read the full review...)


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Open offer to debate

Since 2005 I've had an open offer to debate the Aesthetic Realists publicly in a formal format at any time to defend what I've said on this site, and to answer their own charges against me. But the AR people won't do it. Their excuse is, "He's not worth debating." But if that's true, then why did they put up a ninety-six page website to try to snipe at me and to try to rebut what I'm saying? I think the answer is that they're content to hide behind the cover of the Internet, but they know how bad they'd look in a live format where anyone actually got to ask any pointed questions.

You know what's really funny? Someone went to one of their public presentations, said he'd seen this site, and asked about the cult allegations. The AR person said, "It's very easy to say crap like that on the Internet and never have to be challenged." Oh, the irony is killing me!

Anyway, Aesthetic Realists, as for a public debate, I'm ready when you are. And to everyone else, when the AR people won't stand behind what they're saying, why should anyone take what they say seriously?

 


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What former members say...

They reeled me in like a brook trout... Guilt was introduced into the experience. They told me I was "not showing respect for this great education I was receiving" by [not getting more involved].

If there is anything the Aesthetic Realists are good at, it is convincing people that if they think they see anything wrong with Siegel, AR, Reiss or how the organization is run, there is really something wrong with them. Any time I began to question things or think I saw something amiss, I had been programmed to think that what it really meant was that something was terribly wrong with me.

My new AR friends were starting to apply the hard sell a bit more so the word "cult" did come to mind , but I naïvely believed that it couldn't be a cult because it wasn't religious in nature.

They get you to actually control yourself. A lot of people's lives have been hurt --ruined.

So, there was Eli Siegel, who came up with all these rules, but to whom none of the rules applied, and there was everybody else.

[Eli Siegel] was a hurtful person. He was a sociopath. He was a control freak, and he was a cult leader.

Poor John then would be the subject of an onslaught of criticism to help him see his own contempt for Eli Siegel.... This is merely one example of the way people were controlled and humiliated if they stepped out of line or didn't conform to accepted behavior.

We all had to present ourselves as essentially miserable failures whose lives were in shambles until we found the glorious "answers to all our questions" in AR.

It was very difficult for me to surrender to AR in the total fashion they seemed to want.

I received a call from one of the AR bigwigs asking me to donate money to the foundation.  When I told him I was low on cash I received a considerable verbal drubbing.

I consider my "study" of Aesthetic Realism to be one of the factors that led to the eventual breakup of my marriage, to my eternal sorrow.

I felt a bit raped psychologically.... if you are thinking of getting into the AR consultation process, realize that they could end it all suddenly, and that you could find your most intimate thoughts on tape in someone else's possession.

They flatter you to death and tell you that you're so wonderful, and you have all these qualities that others have never seen. And then there's this horrible criticizing.

That's when I finally knew for sure: AESTHETIC REALISM IS A CULT.  I swore on that moment that if I was ever given the opportunity to tell the world what these people did to me, I would.

When I left I was definitely shunned by other students. I would meet people in the NYC streets -as I still do to this day - and they would turn the other way to avoid me, or some even made derogatory comments about me.

[New AR students] would be shocked if they knew that the lives of the people they are supposed to learn from are very different from the principles they are taught in consultations. Even though publicly the AR foundation preaches respect for people and like of the world, inside the organization the message is very different. The underlying feeling is, "People who do not study AR are inferior to us, and the world is our enemy, out to get us." We had contempt for outsiders and were scared of the world. We huddled together for safety, secure in our sense of superiority.

When I was studying, we were allowed to associate with our families only if they continuously demonstrated that they were grateful to and respectful of Eli Siegel and AR. This did not include going to visit them if they lived far away because then we would have had to miss classes, and that would have meant we were "making our family more important than AR."

Some of the students I remember going at most intensely and viciously to stop them from associating with their families, (and whom we succeeded in stopping for many, many years), are people who are now bragging on the AR website about how great their relationships with their families are and writing as though that was always the case.

There were even instances of students refusing to visit their parents when one of them was dying because the parents did not "express regret" and renounce their unfairness to Eli Siegel and AR. There were parents who literally begged their son or daughter to relent so they could see them one more time, but the child refused. The parent died without ever seeing their child again. Far from being criticized for such behavior, students who went this far were seen as heroes in AR. They received public praise from Ellen Reiss.

While I was in AR, I did believe that Eli Siegel was greater than Christ.... It would have been accurate to say I worshipped him.

People were told that if their families did not support aesthetic realism, they were not their families.

Some of the people with statements on the Countering the Lies website claiming that AR students do not shun former students have actually passed me on the street, looked straight at me, and pretended they were seeing right through me. This includes people in the highest positions in the organization.

More and more the AR zombies demanded that I express gratitude to ES and AR. Every paper that a student wrote had to end with the obligatory "I am so grateful to ES and AR for..." along with "I deeply regret that I have met this great knowledge with contempt..."

Eli Siegel was an evil person. And I don't use the word evil lightly.

See former members' statements in their entirety

 


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Photo of Eli Siegel's gravestone from Find A Grave