Aesthetic Realism is a cult

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

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Transcript of a secret Aesthetic Realism meeting:

An inquest of a person who didn't stay "cured" of homosexuality

posted March 2009

Since I started this site four years ago, at many points I thought I'd just revealed the most scandalous thing possible. For example, when AR people denied they had a gay cure, I posted a scan of the actual ad they ran in major newspapers touting that very thing. I thought that was pretty damning.

But then I got hold of a lengthy article in Jewish Times exposing AR as a cult, and quoting several former members and a noted cult psychology expert at length, describing AR's mind control practices in detail. What's more, they allowed me to reprint it here. Surely that was as good as it would get, right?

Not even. After that a former member contributed an exhaustive account of life inside the cult. It was so comprehensive and so specific I really thought that was the final last word on Aesthetic Realism, especially since it came from an insider. How could we show any clearer what AR is really all about?

But the evidence kept pouring in. After I published the above account, another former AR student shared with us the tape of his therapy session where the AR people tried to "cure" him of his gayness. For the first time, the world was able to see how a poor AR student was berated for not showing sufficient fanatical devotion to AR and its founder -- and that showing such extreme devotion was supposedly the whole basis of the gay cure.(!) Now really, what more evidence could I need to show AR for what it really is?

Well, honestly no more evidence is really needed, but it keeps coming anyway. Recently I received a tape of a secret meeting inside the group, which is transcribed below. To say that it's scandalous is an understatement. This really blows the lid off the whole thing.

Here's the summary: Back when AR was touting its gay cure in the 70's and 80's, as soon as someone was "cured" they were quickly married off to someone else in the group. Not surprisingly, the "cure" didn't usually stick, and the relapse rate was high. Such was the case with a person whom we'll call Luke Randall. After he was married off he eventually admitted to the group that he was still cruising for gay sex. The group then called an inquest about this, which was recorded onto tape. We recently got our hands on that tape.

The scandal isn't that the cure didn't stick, or even that AR thought it was appropriate to try to change gays in the first place. That's old news. What's shocking about this meeting is:

  1. How the Aesthetic Realists yell at, demean, and insult this poor guy, and his wife too, up and down the street. You might think they'd want to gingerly help him get back on the "straight" track. You might think they'd have some sympathy for what the wife must be going through. But not even close. Instead, they all just gang up on the couple and traumatize them for the better part of an hour. For example: "I don't give a damn about your husband...! I don't give a damn about you!" "You are so selfish.... I can't believe how selfish you both are! You're so disgustingly selfish!" "There are babies, children who aren't even tall enough to stand up on their two feet and you've crippled them for life. You're a barbarian." While the words speak for themselves, it is impossible to convey through a written transcript how utterly cruel and contemptuous the AR people sound and the sheer hatred in their voices. There's also the really creepy feeling of a mob egging each other on, as the group murmurs and shouts out in agreement with the meeting's inquisitors.

  2. The delusions. The AR people somehow convince themselves that Luke wasn't cruising because he was really still gay, he did it to "get back" at (AR founder) Eli Siegel and Aesthetic Realism. Wow.

  3. The way private family matters are no longer private once you're in the group. When Luke's wife suspected he was still cruising, she was expected to tell the group. She did, but they still castigated her anyway for not doing so quickly enough: "[W]hen you got the first hint of a suspicion that there might be H, why didn't you call ten people; why didn't you raise your hand in an Opinion Meeting? Why didn't you make something public - unless you were out to protect your husband so you can have contempt galore for him, contempt for Eli Siegel and Aesthetic Realism and drag everybody through the mud?" [Eli Siegel is AR's founder.]

  4. The fact that the AR people are more concerned with damage control than with helping Luke with his struggle. They don't care about what Luke or his wife are going through, they just want to make sure that this incident doesn't wind up casting any public doubt on their gay cure. Towards that end, they talk about editing Luke out of their upcoming "We Have Changed" film, because they're scared of the fallout if people find out that someone in the film hadn't really changed. (Though again, the AR people convince themselves that Luke had really changed, and that the only reason he was still having gay sex was to be vindictive towards the people who cured him. Right.)

  5. The mind control at work. This text is a stunning example of one particular mind control technique, a way to get the subject to adopt a certain position. Rather than tell him the position, they ask him what his position is. If he gives the wrong answer they work on him until he gives the correct one. It's rather insidious. By getting the subject volunteer that this is his position, he then has a certain ownership of that belief. This is way more powerful than if the subject were told what to believe and he just nodded in acceptance. Since the subject thinks he came up with the position himself, he's much more deeply attached to it. This is a primary trick used in Aesthetic Realism consultations, by the way. Anyway, in the transcript below, you'll see that the group repeatedly asks Luke what he thinks should be done. Luke keeps saying he doesn't know, and the group gets angrier and angrier, saying they're not going to tell him, he has to come up with the answer himself. They want him to voice it so that he'll own it. They do the same with his wife. And when his wife gives the "wrong" answer, they steer her towards the "correct" one....

  6. That they actually try to run Luke out of town! At one point they suggest that he be banished from New York City.

  7. That the most important thing in the world to the Aesthetic Realists is to worship the group's founder, Eli Siegel, and that the biggest sin one can commit is to fail to worship him completely. For example:
    • "I owe to Eli Siegel my life, my being, every fiber in my body. "
      "You thought your difficulty was coming from that you thought Mr. Siegel was praised too much and that no one should be praised this much. People should know what that means! You, in effect, took a knife and stuck it in Mr. Siegel's grave when you went out and did this."
    • "You want to go and go and go until somebody discovers you and says, "My God, Aesthetic Realism doesn't amount to anything. Nor does Eli Siegel." And that's your hope. Don't kid yourselves."
    • "Have you been in good faith?! Have you protected Eli Siegel's meaning in your home and Aesthetic Realism and the change in everybody?"

     

While reading the transcript you might think, "Jeez, why didn't the couple just leave? Leave AR or at least just leave the meeting, rather than endure this abuse?" Well, that's the very definition of being in a mind-control cult. In a cult your capacity for making logical decisions is emasculated and you do what the group expects of you instead. But to the subject's credit, at one point he actually does walk out of the meeting, only to return, sadly.

I would love to post the audio, but my informant asked me not to, out of respect for the privacy of the people at the meeting -- both people who left AR long ago, and people who are still in. That also means that all names have been changed. Other than that, the tape was painstakingly transcribed, word for word.

The tape's authenticity was easy to verify. I can recognize multiple voices on the tape, and it sounds exactly like an AR gathering would. And since I'm in contact with several other former members besides myself, I don't have to rely on just my own ears to confirm that it's the real deal.

I can't wait to see how the Aesthetic Realists will try to spin this on their site "Countering the Lies". All I can say is, good luck.


Transcript of the secret inquest, May 9, 1982

Main Interrogator #1: The purpose of this evening, as is the purpose of any meeting of students of Aesthetic Realism, is to see Aesthetic Realism and Mr. Siegel truly, and we have been authorized to serve - the men and women who have changed have been authorized to serve as an Ad Hoc Justice Committee for the Aesthetic Realism Foundation to see what would be justice and fairness in a situation, and for us to make a recommendation to the other students of Aesthetic Realism as to what we feel should be as to a particular situation.

And as we begin, one thing I feel very strongly about is the fact that we have a tremendous opportunity to be fair to the greatest knowledge and the greatest person who ever lived [AR founder Eli Siegel], and the opportunity for this also carries with it many benefits to ourselves. One of the things I will say is - I have thought about this a lot - I feel that any person, any man, definitely people who have changed from homosexuality, any man who doesn't want to be completely fair to Eli Siegel and Aesthetic Realism, his change is still incomplete; he hasn't got everything he came for. He will carry with him the vestiges of that and nurture the vestiges of that which made him homosexual in the first place. And I think for every person here tonight whatever is talked about, whatever is seen, this should be once and for all every person deciding they want to be completely fair to Eli Siegel and Aesthetic Realism with all the joy and the beauty and the wonder that accompanies it, and I think it is a tremendous opportunity for people really to make up their minds.

One thing I do want to say is, if there is anyone here who feels that they are protecting something in themselves which would have them unable to oppose something in another person, cut it out! Cut it out once and for all.

For the purpose of this evening, we are now an official committee of the Aesthetic Realism Foundation. The request is every person here to see it as your responsibility to be completely honest. That's asked for, it's asked of each person, it's asked of myself, it's asked of Mr. S, it's asked of [Luke Randall] and [Bonnie Randall], it's asked of Mr. D, it's asked of every person here.

So first of all as we begin, is it all right if I ask some questions?

Luke Randall: Sure.

Main Interrogator #1: We'd like to have facts as clear and straightforward and as accurate as they can be so people can have an opinion. And right from the outset we're not interested in gory details; we're simply interested in establishing some very basic things. The first thing is very straightforward: In the last year, Luke Randall, have you been having H sex?

Luke Randall: Yes, I have.

Main Interrogator #1: And about how many times? In a way it's a detail, but it can be said.

Luke Randall: Um, maybe about five times.

Main Interrogator #1: Yes?

Male voice: In a discussion I had with Luke Randall on Friday, he told me a dozen times.

Luke Randall: I'll say something about that. I did not say I had sex actually a dozen times; I said that there was excursions maybe 10 to 12 times in a year and a half, but I did not actually have sex every time. And I don't feel, I mean, at this point, no one prompted me to say anything, I feel that I'm just saying exactly - there's nothing for me to protect or hide at this point.

Male voice: I agree.

Luke Randall: And no one encouraged me or coaxed me to say anything. I felt it arose from something in myself that...

Main Interrogator #1: [Cutting him off] Mr. Randall, don't start praising yourself.

Luke Randall: I'm not praising myself.

Main Interrogator #1: Yes, you are. So just stop. We're just going to ask some questions; let's just get it straight. Number two: Is one of the nights that this occurred the night that TD and KC said they wanted to be completely fair to Eli Siegel and Aesthetic Realism?

Luke Randall: That I don't think so.

Main Interrogator #1: Was this said to someone?

Luke Randall: I think...

Bonnie Randall: [Cutting him off] I said it to Mr. R because that's the night that I thought it was. I can't be clear exactly about if that was the night. I thought it was. I know that most times when this has occurred it's been when there's been intensity in Opinion Meetings or in classes. I know definitely that the night that GT and TR were not there that Luke Randall did go out and go to Washington Square Park and get drugs that night, consciously exploiting the fact that GT and TR were not going to be teaching Aesthetic Realism any more. And I didn't know it then, all of this I didn't know until Friday night when what happened, happened.

Main Interrogator #1: All right, so we're going to ask some questions of you two, okay? And if anybody objects to any of the questions or has questions of their own, ask them. This should be a good mingling of formality and informality. [To Luke Randall] Do you feel that what Bonnie Randall said, though, that on notable evenings in the history of Aesthetic Realism - other times, perhaps - when persons said they wanted to be completely fair, things of this nature went on?

Luke Randall: No. I don't feel that. Because this happened before the questions of complete fairness came up. It wasn't that suddenly the questions were made conscious and I did something and...

Main Interrogator #1: [Cutting him off] But since that time, this has also gone on, I'm aware.

Luke Randall: Yes.

Main Interrogator #1: And it also has been up to, close to, and perhaps after the showing of the "Yes, We Have Changed" film.

Luke Randall: Definitely not. There was no sex after. There was one time, not too long ago when I did, being that I work in Rockaway, I stopped off by Reese Park around lunchtime. Nothing happened, but I felt that being in the vicinity, you know, it's an H area, but it also - it's not like if I'm seen there a person would just say, "Well, he's definitely cruising." There are straight couples in that area too. And that...

Main Interrogator #1: [Cutting him off] But your purpose for being there was with your eyes open, right?

Luke Randall: Yes.

Main Interrogator #1: All right. So then the next thing is, Bonnie Randall, you have been aware on a number of occasions that Mr. Randall was not at home at night. Is that true?

Bonnie Randall: Twice.

Main Interrogator #1: All right. Maybe you could just say, since I don't want to be leading - I'm not the best lawyer in the world, and I don't want to lead the witnesses, so...

Bonnie Randall: Well, particularly one night, there was another night, but one night was - I don't know how long ago, maybe three months ago, that it was very late and I was tired. I think it was after a class. I was tired and went to bed, and Luke Randall said that he was not tired and he wanted to stay up and watch television, and he did. And then I woke up just in the middle of the night, the television was on and he wasn't home. And I knew that he had parked the car in a good spot, and I knew it was right down in front of the apartment so when I looked out and the car wasn't there, I knew something was going on. And I, by the way, thought that he was out - I had a feeling that he was looking for, you know, H or whatever. I didn't know, I had a thought about it, but I just didn't want to believe that it could be because it had never happened before.

Main Interrogator #1: Why did you think of it?

Bonnie Randall: Why? Because I just felt it was strange because he had a couple of beers, we'd had drinks, and I felt why else would he go out in the middle of the night with the car, where would he go? That's why. I felt where would he go? There's absolutely no place to go late at night.

Main Interrogator #1: [sarcastically] Well, some people might go to visit their mother, or, you know...

Bonnie Randall: Not at one o'clock, two o'clock in the morning.

Main Interrogator #1: Or a foreign movie, maybe.

Bonnie Randall: It was very late and then I'd stayed up and I was going to call WS since he was downstairs, but I don't think I did, and then five minutes later, Luke Randall had come home. It was a while later that he had come home, and he started explaining himself, and I slapped him across the face and said that I didn't believe him; I just slapped him. And he was glad, he was glad for that. But that was essentially it, and then I spoke to WS about it the next day. The three of us spoke about it, and Luke Randall did not say that there was anything that went on. But there was, as now, I found out that there was something, but I didn't know then. He said there was nothing that happened; he said nothing happened he just wanted to go for a ride, he couldn't sleep...

Main Interrogator #1: But meanwhile, also it seems that at some occasion, at least, you asked pointedly if this is what had gone on?

Bonnie Randall: Yeah.

Main Interrogator #1: At that time too?

Bonnie Randall: Yeah, I did.

Main Interrogator #1: And is WS the only person you told about this?

Bonnie Randall: Um, the next day?

Main Interrogator #1: Well, in the months following, that you've talked to in the last year about this particular subject.

Bonnie Randall: I think that VK was another, and RA.

Main Interrogator #2: If I could ask a question. You slapped him across the face. I just want to say that I find this disgusting. Absolutely disgusting. And I feel that it's hideous that Mr. Siegel is dead, and the two of you, the lowlifes that you are, would [garbled] this garbage. And I think you're both defending yourselves in various ways right now. You are too, Mrs. Randall. You're not talking straight. You knew more. You had suspicions. You slapped him across the face because you didn't believe him. You had suspicions. You almost let him go on TV.

Bonnie Randall: But I didn't want to believe that he would do something like that. I didn't feel that - if anything I thought he would look or something, but I didn't think that he would ever do anything outright.

Main Interrogator #2: [Raising his voice] You suspected he was looking for homosexuality, and he was a man who had changed from H! You suspected he was looking for homosexuality. Don't dress it up!

Bonnie Randall: All right.

Male voice: I wanted to ask Mrs. Randall too if at that time were you at all concerned, if you thought that this might be true, about Aesthetic Realism, or were you just thinking of yourself as a woman who a man could turn towards other men from? Were you thinking of the fact that this could harm Aesthetic Realism in this way, or were you just thinking of Bonnie Randall?

Bonnie Randall: I don't think that I was thinking about that, about Aesthetic Realism at the time. This was, it was before the film, and it was a while ago, about three or four months ago, and It wasn't when Luke Randall was public, although he was public in "Yes, We Have Changed" when he gave his paper. Even so...

Main Interrogator #1: [Cutting her off] Mrs. Randall, I think it would be better if you stopped. Ms. L.

Ms. L: One thing....I'm a little sick. But one thing is, that I don't much care whether Luke Randall had sex or went out looking for it. It's the same thing. I don't see that there's a substantial difference between his cruising the bars or cruising Reese Park, or cruising wherever he cruised. And you had - if you suspected, you must have seen something. You're not blind; you're married to this man. You saw things. I agree with [Main Interrogator #2], you're protecting each other all over the place. In one sentence, you said, I suspected, and I didn't know. Which is it?

Bonnie Randall: Well, I did suspect it, but I didn't want to believe it.

Another female voice: Well, I feel, I'm not a saint myself, and a lot of things I'm not proud of, but this is disgusting. [To Luke Randall] I'm your mother's consultant. I thought about Mr. Siegel, [choking up] and I thought about your mother, one of the most courageous women in America. I love your mother. You are [screams it] DISGUSTING! She could be USEFUL TO EVERY MOTHER IN AMERICA, AND NOW SHE'S SLAUGHTERED IN SOME WAY! [To Bonnie Randall] And you didn't say anything because you wanted to have contempt, and you wanted to protect yourself, and you didn't want to hear criticism. I know; I've done it. And you had contempt for Mr. Siegel and Aesthetic Realism that he did this.

Main Interrogator #2: [To Luke Randall] I'd like to ask the question how much damage do you think you have done or are capable of doing? You went out various nights, various people saw you, people you're not even aware of saw you and passed you by, you went to areas that are frequented by H.

Luke Randall: I don't know how much.

Main Interrogator #2: You were visible. I mean, you met people and.

Luke Randall: I don't know...

Main Interrogator #2: Well I'm asking!

Luke Randall: It was always fast; it was always late at night; it wasn't in any very public area; it was not like in a bar or anything like that. Um, I don't know.

Main Interrogator #1: Are you interested, Mr. Randall, in the damage you have done?

Luke Randall: Well, that's why I came here.

Main Interrogator #1: Is it a victory or a defeat?

Luke Randall: The damage I have done? It's a horrible defeat. [Murmurs of disbelief from everyone.] I wouldn't be here if I felt it was a victory.

Male voice: [With concentrated anger] I am sorry, I disagree strongly and I think your tone, both of you, your tone shows otherwise. And I want to ask you, what do you think Kay Longhope [a reporter] would give to know this? What would she'd give to know this? Her right arm, maybe? And I'm going to tell you something. That's what you want, and don't kid yourself. That's what you want. You want to go and go and go until somebody discovers you and says, "My God, Aesthetic Realism doesn't amount to anything. Nor does Eli Siegel." And that's your hope. Don't kid yourselves.

Main Interrogator #1: Do you see, first of all -- there's, there's, I'm sure people have a very great deal they want to say and they can say it - do you see that the fact that you've been public about Aesthetic Realism and this has happened is just a death blow to the reputation and mockery of the reputation of every person in this room? And that you hold every one of us up to ridicule? Yes or no.

Luke Randall: I can't say yes or no. [Many exclamations of disapproval in background]

Main Interrogator #1: We hope that by the end of the evening, you will be saying yes.

Another male voice: Why do you think people are here?

Luke Randall: Because people want to protect something.

Main Interrogator #1: So before -- I think everyone here can be expressed this evening, I think it's part of the purpose of the evening - but I told Mr. Randall and Mrs. Randall before they came that they should think what they feel is their recommendation for what justice would be as to this. And I think they should say before people say more, if other people agree with me. If anybody disagrees I would like to know. [Murmurs of agreement] I'm finding my way here too. So I think you should say as clearly as you can what, in these hours since we spoke, you feel would be justice in this situation.

Luke Randall: One of the things I thought of was I felt that, I thought to myself that maybe, well, I felt even though I couldn't be sure if someone did, could recognize me from the film, and I know KB said something about the possibility of it being edited, and when I heard that I felt maybe that should be, and I felt...

Main Interrogator #1: We'll take care of the mess. What do you think would be justice in this situation as to you? As to Mrs. Randall?

Luke Randall: It's very hard to be objective. I don't know.

Main Interrogator #1: I WANT YOU TO SAY WHAT YOU THINK WOULD BE JUSTICE IN THIS SITUATION! YOU WANT EVERYBODY ELSE TO TELL YOU! WE'RE NOT GOING TO...

Luke Randall: [garbled]

Main Interrogator #1: WELL THEN SAY IT!

Luke Randall: I don't know! I felt, one of the things I felt was that I should not be a consultant-in-training.

Main Interrogator #1: Mmm hmm...

Luke Randall: That's one thing that I felt. That was, well one of the main things that I felt.

Main Interrogator #1: Do you have any ideas where you shouldn't be a consultant-in-training?

Luke Randall: What?

Main Interrogator #1: Where.

Luke Randall: What do you mean where I shouldn't be?

Main Interrogator #1: I'm asking. Do you think you should be a non-consultant-in-training in New York City or do you think you should be a non-consultant-in-training elsewhere?

Luke Randall: A non-consultant-in-training in New York City.

Main Interrogator #1: That's your opinion. Mrs. Randall?

Bonnie Randall: I feel I can't bear the idea that the film -- well, I know that can be taken care of, but, I guess I'll just answer the question as to what's justice in this situation. Uh, I feel that maybe Luke Randall should not be a consultant-in-training until he proves something different. I worry about how he would use that. Um, I don't think, I think that, you know, I'm just trying to get my thoughts together. I...

Main Interrogator #1: Yes, Miss P?

Miss P: I wanted to ask Mrs. Randall if she sees herself as a victim of circumstance or an active participant in this?

Bonnie Randall: Well, I've been thinking about this because I didn't want to see myself as being a part of this, and I feel that...

Main Interrogator #1: Miss R seems to want to interrupt you.

Miss R: I'd like to know, since you say you didn't see yourself as a part of this, when you got the first hint of a suspicion that there might be H, why didn't you call ten people; why didn't you raise your hand in an Opinion Meeting? Why didn't you make something public - unless you were out to protect your husband so you can have contempt galore for him, contempt for Eli Siegel and Aesthetic Realism and drag everybody through the mud.

Another female voice: Also, you had many opportunities to say something because I know in the last year the two of you have been talked to at least three times intensely at an Opinion Meeting. When a wife slaps her husband it's not just one person you tell. It's big-time. When I did something to [my husband] I wrote a document for the Saturday general lesson because I wanted Eli Siegel to know. Because either I had to hear criticism or he did. You have to look at why you didn't say anything when he was talked to at an Opinion Meeting about his health. You wanted Aesthetic Realism to be useful to you as to his health, but then you don't say what's going on?!

Bonnie Randall: I think I wanted to protect myself.

Main Interrogator #1: Well, don't just say you think, because it's, it's important - and persons who have information should say so -- but I know that you called me sometime back and you said that you had been in a team with Mr. Randall, and it was over, and all the facts had to be known, and you put him on the phone. And I asked a lot of questions, some of them rather pointed. Everything was denied except for the fact of some drugs taken, right?

Bonnie Randall: Right.

Main Interrogator #1: Not a word was ever said -- I asked some questions in this field, did I not?

Bonnie Randall: Yes, and he said no.

Main Interrogator #1: And nothing was said that there had been any suspicion either.

Bonnie Randall: Right, I wasn't suspicious.

Main Interrogator #1: So, just, it's good for people to know that.

Bonnie Randall: Right, I wasn't suspicious at all; I hadn't been used to...about the drugs I was suspicious but not about H.

Main Interrogator #1: [Cutting her off] Mrs. Randall, what you said a bit ago was that these occasions you had been suspicious were prior to this.

Bonnie Randall: Right.

Male voice: Is this prior to the "Yes, We Have Changed" program or after? I'm just trying...

Main Interrogator #2: If I could just be clear, in terms of, uh -- you are saying five times, Luke Randall, five times you actually had sex. And you went out about a dozen looking for, and that these five times was -- when was the last time you went out looking for a man?

Luke Randall: That was the most recent, what I said, Reese Park at lunch a few weeks ago, but before that was the beginning of March or the end of February.

Main Interrogator #2: So you went out a few weeks ago, March and February again was another time?

Luke Randall: Right. But I've always had the thoughts and instead of, I never talked about them, I kept them secret thoughts, the H thoughts.

Main Interrogator #2: I just want to say one thing more in terms of what I know about you. I think you're a loaded gun. I think you're a danger. I think your wife's a danger. We had the monthly meetings, you lied your way through. You called me at work and talking with me in a way that -- you lied to me in a way that I question your sanity in a way. I do. Something is at fault with your mind, I'll tell you that right now. Because the two ways, I've never -- I've heard things about two ways, I've never seen in a person. And I'm not new to Aesthetic Realism, I've been studying ten years, I have not seen it in any way I've seen it in you. You've talked to me in a way that had Monumental Fooler of the Universe in it. And you said at the last meetings that you were critical of yourself in a phony way, though it seemed to be sincere, red-faced saying that you thought your difficulty was coming from that you thought Mr. Siegel was praised too much and that no one should be praised this much. People should know what that means. You, in effect, took a knife and stuck it in Mr. Siegel's grave when you went out and did this. There was trouble with you in a Time Enough Poetry Class with Mr. Siegel. You were not kind, decent to him then. The way you saw thought was lousy. There was an anger in you about thought, you heard about it, and you heard about it, and your sister, and you've wanted to make less of all you heard about your sister. But I think people should know what you said about Mr. Siegel in the meetings we've had. And, well, I'm obviously going about this, but I guess the thought that I've got is that you are a danger.

Main Interrogator #1: Sometimes people can get upset when they are honored.

Main Interrogator #2: In terms of that too, I think there is a very good possibility that the reason that woman, that producer, said to you at work that you should talk to Silverstein first, because someone may have called her, I think it's a very good possibility, and said, "That guy, I recognized." It's so unusual for a producer to commit themselves that way about a piece they did to somebody on the phone. It's so unusual. There is a good possibility somebody called and said something. Because I've gotten looks this week -- don't give me a face -- one guy who saw you on the street recognizing you, just one man, just one. One guy recognizing your face calls up Eyewitness News, calls up Good Morning New York, finds his way to wherever the show is done if he didn't know where it was, and says, "That guy in the tape, they didn't change." One guy does it and then Judy Licht will feel that the anger in her about Aesthetic Realism and the guilt she's had -- and any other press person - is justified and that they are wanting to attack it now and find some shrink who will tear down Aesthetic Realism. You only need one person who will go against Mr. Siegel in terms of the press. Just one person to recognize you. And the way you've been talking about this, you're Kay Longhope. You don't need a lot of people calling about it. You just need one. The fact that you and your wife would let you, even talk about going on the air! That you would think about going on the air with your mother. I respect your mother so much. That you have a mother so good. [Loud sounds of agreement from everyone].

Female voice: She said she wanted to be completely fair in her last consultation.

Main Interrogator #2: There are babies, children who aren't even tall enough to stand up on their two feet and you've crippled them for life. You're a barbarian.

Main Interrogator #1: I agree with [Main Interrogator #2]. Part of the agenda for this evening is for us to collectively decide what we're going to do to take care of...

Main Interrogator #2: Another thing people should know is that you deliberately tried in your sloppy, self-loving way to weaken HR yesterday when you told him you envied GT. [gasps of horror] You slob!

Luke Randall: [says something in a very low voice.]

Main Interrogator #1: DON'T SAY IT THAT WAY. YOU JUST TRIED TO MAKE [Main Interrogator #2] LOOK LIKE A LIAR! HE'S NOT!

[Apparently Mr. Randall gets up to leave] Sit down! Sit!

Luke Randall: No, I'm not going to... This is crazy. I...[garbled]

Male voice: LUKE RANDALL, WOULD YOU STOP THINKING OF YOURSELF? WE'RE TALKING ABOUT AESTHETIC REALISM AND ELI SIEGEL!

[Multiple voices all speaking at once]

Female voice: He has no regret!

Another female voice: I hope she leaves him now.

Another female voice: We can take whatever he has to say, he can say it.

Main Interrogator #1: I'll just say one thing. IF YOU HAVE ANYTHING TO SAY, YOU SAY IT IN HERE IN FRONT OF EVERYBODY. AND DON'T STAND OUT HERE IN THE HALLWAY [garbled]. If you're a man come in here and say it. Otherwise go.

[Sounds as though people may be re-taking their seats]

Female voice: Make up your minds. Bonnie Randall, make up your mind. Make up your mind!

[More sounds of reentry]


Another female voice: [To Luke Randall] Do you think that you owe anything to Eli Siegel and Aesthetic Realism?

Luke Randall: Yes, I do.

Main Interrogator #1: What?

Luke Randall: Uh, that's the thing; I know that, when I do think about my life before I started to study...

Main Interrogator #1: Luke Randall, let me just say something: let's face facts. Quite frankly, I think you have ruined your life. Now, you have the choice of either taking care of something beautiful even though you have damaged yourself, or you're going to exploit it.

Luke Randall: I don't want to make the double mistake, no.

Main Interrogator #1: So, then, would you please see to it that for the rest of this evening, there is one thing on your mind. I don't think you have much to protect anymore. So would you quit loving yourself and please see what it would mean to take care of Aesthetic Realism honestly and truly once and for all? Will you please do it for each -- look into the eyes of each of the men here. Mr. Randall, you've tried to deal a deathblow to every life in this room. Some of us, Mr. Randall, have come quite a ways to get here today. I had a father-in-law who committed suicide this week because Aesthetic Realism couldn't get to him, because he was afraid he was homosexual and he didn't think he could live any more. So please think in that uncharted territory about someone other than yourself while you're here tonight.

Luke Randall: [whispers] God.

Main Interrogator #1: So, does anyone else wish -- we are in the process of establishing... [With obvious disapproval] Is there anything you would like to say Mr. S?

Mr. S: [After long silence.] Well....

Main Interrogator #1: Have you or have you not been in torment in the last couple of days, Mr. S?

Main Interrogator #2: I don't know, see, maybe I'm wrong, and I feel people should say what they feel, but I think that we've got to -- I want to know what Luke Randall was going to do. [To Luke Randall] I don't know if I can believe you. We have to know what you're going to do, and then we have to decide how can we take care of Mr. Siegel now. How can we take care of our whole lives, how can we take care of the people who need to meet Aesthetic Realism. We've got to find ways to bring Aesthetic Realism to people. Besides that, we've got to make a recommendation to the student body. So there are two things on the agenda.

Male voice: [To Luke Randall] I wanted to ask, uh, ask you what do you intend to do to protect Aesthetic Realism?

Luke Randall: Well, the thing is, I definitely never intend to go near an H bar or dock or anything like that. I, I...

Main Interrogator #1: So you're going to live deprived. What else do you intend to do?

Luke Randall: I don't know; I don't know.

Main Interrogator #1: Well, sir, think! This is what we're here for.

Luke Randall: I really don't know.

Main Interrogator #1: Mr. Randall, I'll just, I'll say it quietly. Which do you think would take better care of Aesthetic Realism: if you came to a decision about something, or if you were told what to do?

Luke Randall: If I came to a decision....

Main Interrogator #1: I will not hesitate to tell you what I think you should do, but I think it would be far better for Aesthetic Realism if you made the decision.

Luke Randall: I agree with that.

Main Interrogator #1: So will you please tell us what you think should be.

Luke Randall: I don't know!

Main Interrogator #1: FIND YOUR WAY!

Luke Randall: I, I, it's, this...

Male voice: You want to be told what to do, and then you can have contempt for Aesthetic Realism and work it into this situation where you are hurt.

Luke Randall: I said that one of the worst things I did feel in some way I was looking to be told or asked to leave. Um, and that, but I don't know, other than the fact that I myself decided that I should not be a consultant-in-training, I don't know what else follows. It's something that I've given a lot of my life to Aesthetic Realism. I don't know...

[MANY VOICES DISSENT ANGRILY]

Female voice: You've given to Aesthetic Realism!

Another female voice: You have given nothing to Aesthetic Realism!

Main Interrogator #1: You've been, as you've studied [garbled] a leech!

Female voice: Luke Randall, I heard Eli Siegel talk about you, and I've watched him in classes at 67 Jane Street and want to take care of your life. And I - it is un - it's not unbelievable, which is what's unfortunate to see you sit there, simply interested in protecting YOUR OWN GOD DAMN NARROW SELF with your wife joining you, AFTER Mr. Siegel is dead, not giving a DAMN what you put anybody through, not caring what you did to every man in this room, every man who is walking around the street homosexual, the possibilities of all the people that saw you. And you are sitting there, COLD, disinterested, like the whole DAMN THING doesn't matter, and your wife is joining you. And then you take a fit because a couple of people are critical of you? You better figure out what you think should be!

Main Interrogator #1: As part of the basis of figuring out, I agree with Ms. L, I think that it would be good -- [With suddenly vehemence] YOU'VE HATED ELI SIEGEL SINCE THE DAY THAT HE DESCRIBED TO YOUR SISTER WHAT YOUR FEELINGS WERE ABOUT HER. And your sister has gone through a very great deal because she didn't want to be honest, but YOU HAVE HATED ELI SIEGEL EVER SINCE THAT DAY because one thing your sister had shown is that she loves him more than she loves you. And you've never forgiven him for it and you still haven't. Mr. W.

Mr. W: I just want to say that I just came from hearing a lesson of Kevin Randall, where Eli Siegel spoke gorgeously about Luke Randall. And Eli Siegel gave this assignment to Kevin Randall: "It Would Make Me Proud If I Saw My Brother Luke Randall in the Following Manner. Write one thing every day." That's how Eli Siegel saw you. You've given nothing; he's given everything. He's given everything. And I think, Mr. Randall, see, you want us to tell you what to do so you can say for the rest of your life, "I met the most beautiful thing in the world but it couldn't get through to me." And I think, and I think you're looking for the ultimate victory right now. But I want to tell you something. It was magnificent the way I heard Eli Siegel speak about you, just less than an hour ago on a tape.

Female voice: And Mr. Siegel was speaking about you that way a month or two months before he died, at a time when he was in more pain than any pain you've ever come close to in your life. And he's made it possible for you to have a life, even with everything you've done right now, to have some possibility for a life and to live, and I think your silence is horrible. And Bonnie Randall, you ought to say something! Say where you are.

Bonnie Randall: Well, I feel I want to teach Aesthetic Realism, I want to be in classes, I feel I want to be different....

Same female voice: Why should anybody trust you in classes? You have not been taking care of Aesthetic Realism in your mind at least for the last year!

Bonnie Randall: Well, I do feel - I definitely feel I want to use this to be different.

Main Interrogator #1: Mrs. Randall, look, let's make something very clear. In certain ways you don't have a choice. So what do you think, even as to you, would be fair? And what do you see as for yourself as taking care of Aesthetic Realism at this time?

Bonnie Randall: Just as to myself?

Main Interrogator #1: As to yourself.

[LONG PAUSE]

Main Interrogator #1: Do you think people have a right to question your sincerity?

Bonnie Randall: Yes.

Main Interrogator #1: So what do you think should be?

Bonnie Randall: Well, I hope that I can say what I feel, and it can be questioned, but I feel I want to do all I can to be a different person through what's been going on. I feel that I haven't been who I hoped to be in the past six, nine months I would say, and I feel I want to be different.

Main Interrogator #2: See the reason why ...

Main Interrogator #1: Go ahead.

Main Interrogator #2: I, in a certain sense, I'm more concerned with your husband and [garbled] all of this to say that, someday - I'm more concerned with Luke Randall and his threat to Eli Siegel, his threat to every student of Aesthetic Realism, his threat to people across America. What do you think is necessary to protect Aesthetic Realism? You as his wife, you've seen things, there are questions about you, but what should be done now in terms of the film, and him in class, etcetera across the board?

Bonnie Randall: I have thought mostly about that today, and I thought about a lot of things. One thing that I thought about is that Luke Randall and I -- I don't know if this is easy to do or if it's not even the best thing, because I do and I know there's something beautiful in Luke Randall and he said he would hate the idea that the film be removed, his section of the film be removed. [Objections from everybody in the room]

Male voice: I don't care what he would hate.

Bonnie Randall: All right, but I'm just saying

Male voice: [Repeats it louder] I don't care what he would hate!

Female voice: Stop thinking about yourself.

Another male voice: What's going to happen to Aesthetic Realism?

Third male voice: Also, frankly, I think that -- I don't know if anybody has just said it out -- but I definitely think this segment should come out and I don't think there's too much question about it. [Loud comments of agreement from others]

Another female voice: WHY DIDN'T HE THINK ABOUT THE FILM. WHY DIDN'T HE THINK ABOUT THE FILM WHEN HE WENT INTO A TRUCK!

Same male voice: I don't think it's too much of a question. [Sounds of agreement]

Fourth male voice: You're not thinking of the people, that people really saw you.

Fifth male voice: It's not real to you; it's not real.

Main Interrogator #2: Bonnie Randall and Luke Randall, I can remember, I saw somebody two weeks ago who I remembered from the bars. And a month before that, I saw somebody who I knew back in my old neighborhood. His life was so different than mine; I saw him looking at guys on the street as I passed him by, saw him looking at young boys, and it was something to see in four years, the difference. I remembered. And then, I didn't think about him, but when I saw him, click [snaps fingers] I remembered. And it's everybody here, whether it be a man or a woman, can somebody somewhere, remember the messenger at work, will remember their next-door neighbor when they run into them three years later. [Murmurs of agreement] People -- we see them and your memory is jarred. And it's the -- well my opinion is, Luke Randall, I feel, my recommendation would be that the way you are speaking, in the way your wife is speaking, I feel you definitely -- and [garbled] I should not be the first person saying it. [A chorus of people saying he should not say it.]

Main Interrogator #1: Mr. C.

Mr. C: I think Luke Randall should say what you see as your obligation to Eli Siegel, to Aesthetic Realism, to every man who's here who's changed that you want [garbled] to.

[LONG PAUSE]

Luke Randall: Well, I don't know what to say at this point.

[Many people speak loudly and intensely all at once]

Mr. C: YOU HAVE AN OBLIGATION TO EVERYBODY IN THIS ROOM AND TO EVERY PERSON IN THE WORLD! WE REPRESENT MILLIONS OF PEOPLE! I REPRESENT A WHOLE COUNTRY! YOU HAVE TO BE JUST! STOP NOW!

Bonnie Randall [to Luke Randall]: Would you speak?

Luke Randall: I don't know what...

[SEVERAL PEOPLE START YELLING]

Male voice: That's not good enough!

Female voice: YOU CALLED HIM A LIAR BY PUTTING YOUR FACE ON THAT SHOW!

Another male voice: Look at people when you speak.

Luke Randall: I wasn't in my right mind...

Same male voice: [Louder] Look at people when you speak!

Luke Randall: It wasn't in my mind; [Main Interrogator #2] is right.

Same male voice: Look in someone's eyes and think of their life. Think of me, for example. Do you want me to have someone come and say, "Oh, you say you changed; I don't believe it. I know someone who said he'd changed and he had his name in an ad, and he was in a film. It was bullshit."

Another male voice: Luke, think of FB who came this week and who you spoke to the other night and just left, who is leaving right now on a plane with his wife who has three children waiting back home, who is hopeful as hell. Think of him.

Female voice: I think there could be something from you right now. You were asked what do you owe Eli Siegel. I owe to Eli Siegel my life, my being, every fiber in my body.

Main Interrogator #2: Here, here! [Sentiment echoed by others]

Same female voice: I'm proud of that.

Main Interrogator #1: Pretty good fibers, too! [Hubbub in background agreeing]

Another female voice: Luke Randall, I think you could begin right now. There hasn't been an honest regret. I'm sitting here, I could weep for years. I have a letter in my purse from a SCUM who said my husband didn't change, and you are backing him up. You could have written this letter. I didn't see the import when I came tonight, but my God, my eyes are open! You and Bonnie Randall, you should say, "I could weep for eternity for what I have done." And it's not just the past year. My God, you were married, you haven't even been married a year. It hasn't been the past year; it's been many, many years. So you can't just see it as being of the moment. It's been something in you for years. But you could start now, you could start right now and be honest, and be humble and people would respect you for that.

[LONG SILENCE.]

Luke Randall: I...

Bonnie Randall [to Luke Randall]: [garbled] what SB said? I'm glad for what you said, SB. Luke, you should say something.

Luke Randall: Well, I...

Male voice: [To Bonnie Randall] What about you? [Repeated by many others]

Main Interrogator #1: What about you? What do you think he should do?

Bonnie Randall: What do I think he should do right now?

Main Interrogator #1: What do you think he should do, period?

Bonnie Randall: I think he should change; I think he should want to see this; he should want to look at what Mr. Siegel said. I feel he is angry with Mr. Siegel. He doesn't like the way Mr. Siegel talked to [his sister].

Main Interrogator #1: OK Mrs. Randall.


Main Interrogator #2 or another man: I want to know what Bonnie Randall feels will protect Aesthetic Realism and take care of Aesthetic Realism. Quite frankly, I don't care right now about Mr. Randall.

Bonnie Randall: Okay. I feel that Luke Randall, to take care of Aesthetic Realism should not be in classes. I feel that will take care of Aesthetic Realism.

Main Interrogator #2: And? And?

Bonnie Randall: But I don't feel that I should not be there. I feel I want to be there.

Female voice: Why should we trust you? Why?

Bonnie Randall: Why?

Same female voice: Yes, why.

Bonnie Randall: Well, number one, I feel, I feel I have...

Same female voice: Have you been in good faith?! Have you protected Eli Siegel's meaning in your home and Aesthetic Realism and the change in everybody?

Bonnie Randall: No.

Another female: I would like to ask....

Previous female voice: It's been a mockery, pardon me, but this has been a mockery.

Main Interrogator #1: Yes, but staying with right now, what's being talked about as to Mr. Randall, you say rather cautiously maybe he shouldn't be in class. Do you think that -- what do you feel is necessary to protect Aesthetic Realism? Do you feel that "Perhaps Mr. Randall shouldn't be in class" is sufficient, or do you think that it is, well, that perhaps Aesthetic Realism needs further protection?

[LONG PAUSE.]

Bonnie Randall: I think both, I don't know.

[VOICES YELLING]

Another female: Bonnie Randall, you be straight and say everything you think should be. You want to be trusted....

Main Interrogator #2: I don't think you're gonna get a straight answer out of the two of them. My recommendation would be, and I'll say this straight, the two of you should be asked to leave; we should talk amongst ourselves. I don't want to waste more time with the two of you. Unless there's anything more you want to add [garbled] I feel the two of you should leave. The student body must decide what to do with respect to a recommendation. If I'm wrong, people should say so.

[Cacophony of people saying that he is right.]

Female voice: I want to remind that Ellen Reiss had said recently in a class, she said, and I think she used the word accuse, she said this might surprise you, but she said, I accuse you of, you know, letting your husband leave, go to California and acting sad for a while and then joining him. Very sweetly, "Oh no." You know. You didn't spill any beans. And I just want to say I agree with [Main Interrogator #2] because the thing I feel is, two plus two equals four. I feel there is no regret, because you still don't feel you've made a mistake.

Bonnie Randall: I do! [Sound of others disagreeing] I made a mistake!

Female voice: What was your mistake?

Bonnie Randall: One, I did not inform people of my suspicions; I did not talk to people about what I, was going on with us.

Another female voice: [screeching] YOUR MISTAKE, BONNIE RANDALL, WAS THAT YOU WANTED ELI SIEGEL DEAD AGAIN -- THAT'S YOUR MISTAKE! AND YOU DON'T CARE ABOUT ANYBODY'S LIFE! ALL THE MEN IN THIS ROOM AND ALL THE MEN THAT HAVEN'T BEEN ABLE TO MEET AESTHETIC REALISM! I DON'T GIVE A DAMN ABOUT YOUR HUSBAND FROM ONE POINT OF VIEW; I DON'T GIVE A DAMN ABOUT YOU! WHAT ABOUT ALL THE OTHER PEOPLE? WHAT ABOUT ELI SIEGEL? YOU HAVEN'T SAID ONE WORD ABOUT AESTHETIC REALISM! WHAT DO YOU THINK SHOULD BE TO PROTECT AESTHETIC REALISM AND ELI SIEGEL?! "MY GOD I'VE MADE MISTAKES," BUT THEY DESERVE PROTECTION! [LONG PAUSE] NOT ONE WORD OUT OF EITHER OF YOU?!

[LONG PAUSE]

Bonnie Randall: I'm just not sure what to say.

[Same female and several others all speak at once]

Main Interrogator #1: I think [Main Interrogator #2] is right.

Another female voice: And don't get a victory now. [Murmurs from others]

Third female voice: You can't possibly get a victory. You are so selfish, that's the thing. I can't believe how selfish you both are! You're so disgustingly selfish!

Fourth female voice: Bonnie, you should go with him. [Which indicates that Luke Randall has probably already gotten up to leave or has left]

Bonnie Randall: I'm sorry [garbled].

Male voice: I want to say something also. Make sure Mr. Randall and Mrs. Randall, as she leaves here, we are trying to protect Aesthetic Realism, the thing that you have been close to in a very public way, which can hurt people. So make sure you are in good faith as you leave. At least the best you can, try to take care of Aesthetic Realism. Okay?

[End of Part I. Stay tuned for Part II!]

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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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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Photo of Eli Siegel's gravestone from Find A Grave