Aesthetic Realism is a cult

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

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The hypocrisy of the Aesthetic Realists

by Michael Bluejay, former member of Aesthetic Realism
May 2010

    "Hypocrisy" isn't a word I use lightly, but sometimes the hypocrisy is so blatant, extensive, and over-the-top that there's no other way to describe it. That's the case with the Aesthetic Realists, who claim their critics are liars while their own lies would fill books, complain that their critics are anonymous while they send me and my mother anonymous hate mail (and edit Wikipedia anonymously as well), and charge that their critics engage in name-calling, when it's the Aesthetic Realists themselves who are hurling insults left and right.  This page gives some examples.

 

Claiming their critics are full of hate, while being extraordinarily hateful themselves

The Aesthetic Realists claim that their critics are full of hate.  For example:
"There is a tone of hate in his writing here and on his [Bluejay's] web site." (source)

"We have the evidence, they produce the vitriol." (source)

"On the one side we have an educational foundation teaching a fine philosophy for many decades and on the other a small cabal of malcontents throwing mud." (source)

Of course, the reader can easily peruse this website and see that it consists of well-sourced criticism of the group's cult aspects, not hate, and certainly not personal insults of the group's members. But since Aesthetic Realism is a cult, its members equate criticism of it as a crime against humanity, so to them any criticism is automatically hateful. They really can't see the difference between level-headed critique and a page full of personal insults. If Aesthetic Realism is the target, then to Aesthetic Realists it's the same thing. But in any event, the issue isn't whether my writing is full of hate, it's whether the Aesthetic Realists' writings are full of hate, at the same time as they admonish others for being hateful. So how does their own writing stack up? You be the judge:

"So much for the stupid lying of Mali, Bluejay and the other liars.... Why is he doing this? Feeling himself to be a failure in his own life, and joining with others also seeking revenge for essentially the same reason--notably Adam Mali--"Michael Bluejay" seeks the triumph of making himself important by looking down upon others. He is attempting to assuage his feeling of unimportance by attacking the persons and philosophy he very well realizes best represent truth and beauty." (from AR's "Countering the Lies" website, )

"I have tried to present the facts. If the facts make these few, ill-motivated, so-called critics look sleazy, it's only because they are." (Wikipedia talk page)

This screed is particularly ironic, since the AR's big claim is that it enhances your life by teaching you how to purge your contempt for others.  If the above screed is an example of how kind and loving a person becomes from studying AR, then I'll pass.


Complaining that their critics are anonymous, while they send us anonymous hate mail, and edit Wikipedia anonymously

Many of the former members who share their stories on this site prefer to remain anonymous.  After all, it can be embarrassing for it to be known that one had been a cult member. And when critics like myself do give their names, the Aesthetic Realists do their best to drag their critics' names through the mud, on the Internet.  One day a reporter called me and asked, "How do you respond to the Aesthetic Realists' claims that you're a sexual deviant?"  So it's easy to see why many former members prefer not to give their names when they detail their cult experiences.  When this happens the AR people whine bitterly up and down the street that their critics are anonymous.  It's almost like the AR people are saying, "We demand to know who you are so we can slander you!"

That's bad enough.  But what's really wacky is that the Aesthetic Realists themselves are operating anonymously.  Of course they never sign the hate mail they send to me and my mother.

Here's a fun one: Guess what all the following complaints by an Aesthetic Realist have in common?
"Almost all of [the contributors to the 'AR is a Cult' site] are anonymous."

"[The article] gives far too much prominence to a minor bit player ... to the anonymous voices who speak for and through Bluejay." (source)

"And please note that when former students speak out they all have names--unlike that anonymous crew of character assassins being given far too much currency by the Bluejay rantings." (source)

Can you guess what they have in common?  All those complaints about anonymity, were made by Aesthetic Realists, anonymously!

Another AR person complains:

"I have a rather strong suspicion, in fact, that "Outerlimits" might well be Michael Bluejay in one of his many anonymous guises." (source)

Of course, the Aesthetic Realist making that accusation did so anonymously!

Haven't these people ever heard of irony?

(And for the record, I'm not anonymous, I always write with my own name, both here and on Wikipedia.) 



Claiming their critics are liars, while their own lies would fill volumes

AR's own mistruths include:
  1. "Aesthetic Realism never saw homosexuality as something to cure." (Fact: It did.)
  2. "While people did change from H by studying AR, we never said anyone should change." (Fact: They did.)
  3. "Aesthetic Realism never saw homosexuality as a mental illness."  (Fact: They did, and still do.)
  4. "Eli Siegel [AR's founder] didn't kill himself."  (Fact: Did, did, did, did, did!)
  5. "AR has been up front about how Eli Siegel died."  (Fact: Not even close.)
  6. "Michael Bluejay was only two (or three) years old when he was involved in AR." (Fact: I last studied formally at age 12, and my family didn't cease its involvement completely until a few years later.)
  7. "AR critics don't want you to see the AR site, Countering the Lies."  (Fact: Then why do I link to it, again and again and again ? I'm only too happy for people to see how fanatical the AR people are in trying to defend their group.)
  8. "There are no credible critics [of AR] at all."  (Fact: Then what do you call Harper's Magazine, New York Magazine, noted cult expert Steve Hassan, me [I'm an award-winning writer], and all the other former members who now speak out against the group?)
  9. "There are no 'adherents' of Aesthetic Realism--that implies an uncritical acceptance."  (Fact: Aesthetic Realists' acceptance of the group's teachings is beyond complete, it's fanatical. They believe that their founder was the greatest person ever to live, that one should be "grateful without limit" for the knowledge of Aesthetic Realism, and that the media's disinterest in covering Aesthetic Realism is "a crime against humanity".

 


Aesthetic Realism members

   One of the things the Aesthetic Realists have their panties in a wad about these days is that I and other former members describe ourselves as former members.  Because, according to the Aesthetic Realists, there are no "members" of AR, only students.  Here are some examples, each made by a different Aesthetic Realist on their website:

  • "Michael Bluejay writes in his article: 'they actively recruit new members' and 'they shun former members.' First of all, it is impossible that there exist former Aesthetic Realism 'members' because there has never been one, to begin with. The Aesthetic Realism Foundation provides education for whoever wants to study. There are no members, but only students and teachers."
  • "...and I’m not even discussing the fact that he uses the completely inaccurate yet charged word 'members'."
  • "I also resent, object to and despise the way the trasher of Aesthetic Realism calls students and teachers of Aesthetic Realism--Members."
  • "This attacker has stated in big bold type that the only persons talking in favor of Aesthetic Realism are those he calls 'current members.'...there are no 'members'..."
  • "The Aesthetic Realism Foundation is not a membership organization; it is a not-for-profit educational institution. There is a fundamental distinction."
  • "And what is this nonsense about Aesthetic Realism being a cult with members?"
  • (and on and on)

Okay, and so what do we see at the bottom of this ad bought and paid for by the Aesthetic Realists some years ago?

"Members of the Society of Aesthetic Realism"

Huh.


Claiming their critics are afraid of mediation and debate, while refusing my open offer to debate for the last several years

Aesthetic Realist Arnold Perey writes:
"Apparently Mr. Bluejay is afraid of mediation..." (source)

Hello, I requested the mediation!

They also dismiss this site with remarks like:

"[T]he Web is the easiest place to say anything one pleases and bear no responsibility for it." (source)

I agree. But between them and me, they're the ones who won't stand behind what they say. The Aesthetic Realists have refused my offer to publicly debate these issues for years now.

 

Alleging that I write under a ficticious name -- while doing so themselves.

Aesthetic Realist Arnold Perey wrote on a Wikipedia talk page:
"By the way, I think Outerlimits is Michael Bluejay. He does seem to have one way of writing for all occasions." (source)

This is the same Arnold Perey who was later caught writing under a second screen name on Wikipedia.  He even admitted to it.

(And for the record, I'm not Outerlimits. I've never written on Wikipedia under any other handle than MichaelBluejay.)

 

Charging their critics with censorship, while they lunge to erase anything that casts them in an unfavorable light

Aesthetic Realist Arnold Perey writes:
"But no one has the right to suppress what another believes to be true, as Mr. Bluejay has tried to do to my writing." (source)

This is the same Arnold Perey who went on Wikipedia and censored the fact that Eli Siegel killed himself and the links to this website -- repeatedly. He's got some chutzpah, I'll tell you that.

(Incidentally, my alleged "suprressing" of Perey was to remove the non-encyclopedic cheerleading that Perey inserted into the AR article, since such cheerleading is against Wikipedia policy.)

And Perey isn't alone -- a whole slew of Aesthetic Realists have been trying to censor the more unflattering aspects of Aesthetic Realism from the Wikipedia article on the subject (with some success, I might add).

 

Share your Aesthetic Realism story!

If you did time in AR, had or have a friend or relative in AR, or had some other run-in with the group, I hope you'll share your story on this site. If you'd like to write something that you don't want to appear on this site, then please write directly to my email address instead.

Name

(We won't publish your name unless you say it's okay, but we have to have it in order to verify submissions.)

Email Address


(We won't publish your email address, but we have to have it in order to verify submissions.)

Your experience:

Yes   No

Okay to publish your name?

Yes   No

Okay to identify your gender? (e.g., "his story", "her story")

Yes   No

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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...

 


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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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