Aesthetic Realism in the media
and help for journalists covering AR
I'm happy to do phone interviews 24/7: (512)
References in the media about AR being a cult
- New York Times: "This is less a book than a
collection of pietistic snippets by Believers." (review
AR's first gay cure
book, Sept. 12, 1971)
- New York Magazine: "[Aesthetic Realism is a] cult of
messianic nothingness that hangs out somewhere in the
Village." (1976, excerpt)
in a private letter
Magazine letterhead, the Arts Editor called AR "a crackpot
in the woodwork down in Greenwich Village."
- New York Native: "Aesthetic
Realism is a cult...employing all the subtle and
manipulative techniques of mind control used by such masters
genre as the Moonies [and] the Scientologists.... Like all
Aesthetic Realism reduces the wonder and
complexity of the world to a strict polarity of black-or-white
By cultivating an individual's sense of negative identity, the
weakens the ego enough to gain admittance and eventual control
person's mind. Put most succinctly by a woman whose friend had
change: 'I liked him when he was gay. At least then he was a
Now he's just an Aesthetic Realist.'" ("The
Aesthetic Realism", 1981, full
- Harper's Magazine: "'Fair' is a
word favored by the Aesthetic
Realists, a.k.a. the Embattled Disciples of Eli Siegel
and, in some of their incarnations, the Moonies of
Aesthetic Realism", April
by Hugh Kenner; see excerpt)
- Literary Times associate editor: "[The
should be considered liars. I made my
appraisal of Aesthetic Realism only after extensive thought,
and field trips. I could only conclude that as
philosophy it is
primitive and, as religion, worse than having none at
decided most people who think about aesthetics, ethics, or the
do far better than the AR devotees or even the guru himself,
he believes in his system. The absurdity of the movement
illustrated by its propaganda." (Harry Smith,
Associate Editor of Literary Times, in a letter
to the editor in the Village Voice, Dec.
24, 1964, p. 4)
- Psychology Today: "[T]oday cults are not limited to
religious groups but include EST, Scientology, yoga cults,
psychotherapy cults, and philosophy cults such as Aesthetic
"[A] woman with a curious
button on her chest sat down beside us. Her button read:
'Victim of the
Press.' She looked safe enough to ask questions. Some
she spoke of her cause, she began to emerge as, well,
Clearly, she had memorized the tracts she was passing
at her blankly, as if she were across from us on a subway
train." ("A media 'victim' meets the press",
Teresa Annas, The
Virginian-Pilot, June 30, 1991, p. G6)
- New York Magazine: "The Aesthetic Realists: An
oddball presence in SoHo for more than twenty years..." (by
Roston, Jan. 2, 1995, p. 27, link)
- Commentary Magazine: "It reminds me of those
buttons an odd New York psychiatric cult used to send out,
the New York Times’s refusal to acknowledge them, insisting on
'Aesthetic Realism’s Right to Be Known.'" (by
Hunter, Pulitzer-Prize winning writer, July/August 2009; link)
- ICSA Today (International Journal of Cultic Studies):
"Because I left, my parents
[who are still in AR] cut me off. The exception was in
critical statements I
made about Aesthetic Realism were quoted in an
in The New
York Post, and I received a five-page vitriolic
likely written in committee, but over my parents'
letter compared me to Brutus assassinating Julius Caesar, and
Benedict Arnold. Today, if I pass former colleagues on
street, they look past me as if I do not exist."
Ann Stamler, Ex-Member Editor, April 2012; link)
- New York Blade:
"Anti-Gay Cult Pulls Fast One....Until the mid-1990s, AR
buttons that read 'Victims of the Press.' Feelings of
intolerance of criticism, slavish devotion to a leader, a
only they know the one true path to enlightenment—these are
distinguishing characteristics of a cult." (by
Schoell, Apr. 25, 2008, link)
References in books:
- Wrestling with God and Men: "In the early
eighties a young man at Yeshiva University, troubled by his
desires, came out to a religious studies teacher and was sent
Aesthetic Realism, the once popular philosophic cult of Eli
had a theory for healing homosexuals. The therapy enforced his
self-blame and made his situation worse. Six months later the
attempted suicide and was sent home by the university, never
return." (2005, Steven Greenberg, p. 293, Amazon
Other references to AR being a cult in the print media
- Jewish Times: "I never believed it was a cult. I
didn't see my parents for 15 years, and I thought nothing of
it. I used
to plan trips to go home, and all the cult members would get
and talk you out of it." "This is one of the
the organization that is cult-like -- you can't have
Either it is the most important thing you have ever known and
to devote your life to them, or you are an enemy." (2003,
- Boston Globe: "Gay individuals and organizations
change anti- homosexual attitudes in society view Aesthetic
a hostile and antagonistic fringe group.... New York
Jack Doren, immediate past president of the National Assn. of
Psychologists, said: 'If they want to be a group helping
have a preference not to be gay, fine, but they are very
They are more of a cult than anything else. If they made the
as theory, fine, but they make them as fact. They say
based on antagonism to women, with its foundation as hatred
Mother. That's not responsible . . . It's an archaic
view.'" ("Aesthetic Realism and
Homosexuality" by Kay Longcope,
April 18, 1981)
- Albany Times Union: "Grant recipient alleged to be a
cult." (2008; full
- Village Voice:
"Typically, you were excoriated in
the public meetings if they didn't like what you were doing,"
"Your decisions had to be made [on the basis of] what was best
group." Mali says he was pressured to break up with his
wasn't part of the group, and to bypass college because
needed to know could be learned at the foundation. "My father
in there, and he doesn't talk to me anymore because he thinks
betrayed the group, " Mali says....Steve Hassan, a former
the author of two books on controversial religious groups,
Aesthetic Realism as a "psychotherapy cult." He has counseled
former Aesthetic Realism students over the last two decades
the foundation employs all the typical methods of undue
group was cutting people off from loved ones, regulating all
behavior—their thoughts and feelings—and encouraging the
Eli Siegel. (2008, full
- Gay City News: "The Aesthetic Realism Foundation has
attracted particular attention, partly because the group has
viewed as a small cult and also because of its past claims
members were able to change their sexual orientation from
heterosexual." (2008, full
- New York Post: "Former followers of Aesthetic
Realism brand it a "cult" that controlled their minds and
every aspect of their lives -- from money to sex. They told
that their innermost feelings were scrutinized and condemned
that they were pushed to submit to the group's beliefs
losing their free will. They said Aesthetic Realism leaders
where they should live and with whom, what friends and
talk to, and how to use their spare time -- all to ensure
devotion to the group's beliefs and its charismatic founder,
Siegel." (1998, full
- Wilmington Daily Star: "Among the offerings in my
mail box was a
pitch for a group in the form of a newsletter entitled The
Aesthetic Realism to be Known....It seemed to boil down
diatribe against Katherine Graham and the Washington Post.
The Post won't publish the columns submitted regularly
'Aesthetic Realism'." (1981, full
- The Globe and Mail: "Pity the lot of the
Aesthetic Realists, a New York-based group with fewer than 200
who are mad at the New York Times because the Times, they
refuses to print a story that 123 homosexuals have changed (to
heterosexuality) through Aesthetic Realism." (April
1978, p. 8, excerpt)
In online media:
On the radio:
I did a radio interview with OutQ on Sirius about the AR
scandal covered by the Albany
The one favorable treament of AR that I found:
Note: The AR people
like to point to the many favorable
reviews of Siegel's poetry and literary work that
exist, as though that legitimizes the mind control group
that follows his teachings. We have no truck with
philosophy (except the bit about homosexuality being a
form of insanity). Our criticism is about the group that
promotes his philosophy, not the philosophy itself.
What is all this, in a nutshell?
Aesthetic Realism is a philosophy about how
to live your life. The primary teaching is that one
should value the world and the people in it, and avoid
having contempt for them, because "contempt causes
insanity". AR also teaches that "beauty is the making one
of opposites", in art, music, life, and everything else.
The philosophy itself isn't scandalous or crazy,
but the way the Aesthetic Realists practice it is.They
believe that AR is the one and only true answer to universal
peace and happiness, and they essentially worship the founder
most important person who ever lived (which are the two
qualities of cults).
AR also promoted its "cure"
homosexuality for decades, which is
what the media usually focuses on, but AR's scandals
run much deeper than that. Focusing on the gay cure
misses the point that AR is a dangerous mind-control cult
which strips people of their ability to think
independently and tears families apart. That's a story
that's rarely been told, but needs to be. AR's cult
- Fanatical devotion to the founder or
leader. They believe the founder, Eli Siegel, was the
greatest person ever to live, period. They
think his writings trump the Bible
- The ultimate purpose is to recruit new
members. Whether it's writing guest editorials or
doing public presentations about the beauty of
architecture, you can be sure there will be lavish
praise for AR and Eli Siegel. Everything they do is
done with the hope of luring someone else in.
- Paranoid feeling of persecution. They
believe there is a conspiracy in the media to avoid
reporting about their one true answer to universal
peace and happiness. For years they were buttons
proclaiming "Victim of
the Press", and stopped in the 90's after being
embarrassed by an article in the
New York Post which mentioned that.
- Control over members' lives, right down to whom
they can marry. See a
former member's story about the level of control
over members of the group, especially the section
"Controlling students' personal relationships".
- Cutting off ties with friends and family, if
they aren't believers as well. This one is
mentioned over and over by the various former members in
both the media
(see list above) and in articles
contributed to this
- The cult founder/leader killed
himself. That's almost a cliché
with cults, and this one is no exception.
- Hysterical reaction to criticism. The AR
Lies (ironically named) is chock full of
screeching hysterics about their critics. Here's one
of my favorite quotes there, written about me by AR
Mondlin: "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." I
couldn't make up stuff this good!
Okay, so they're a little weird. Isn't that
No. If they merely had some
unconventional beliefs, there would be no problem. But
they do hurt people. The people involved lose their
ability to think independently. They cut off ties with
friends and family if those people aren't also believers.
And former members have said that it's taken them years
of therapy to get
over their involvement with the group. Some of them
attempted suicide after leaving the group. And there have
been at least three suicides of people in the
group that we know about.
Tell me about the gay cure
According to AR, homosexuality is a result of
one's contempt for the world. Their answer? Study
Aesthetic Realism, which will show you how to like the
world, and therefore you won't be homosexual any more.
Actually, a big part of the "cure" is expressing your
undying allegiance to Aesthetic Realism and its founder,
Eli Siegel. Here's a
transcript of an AR therapy session in which AR
people tried to cure an AR student of his gayness. What's
interesting about this session is the amount of time the
AR people spend chastising the student for not
demonstrating enough "respect" and "gratitude" for AR and
The group actively promoted its "cure" in the 70's
& 80's but abandoned it in the 90's, for two
reasons. One, society was becoming more tolerant of
homosexuality, and the idea of a gay cure just didn't fly
as easily as it had in the past. And perhaps more
significantly, the "cure" didn't really work, with most
of the "cured" deciding they were really still gay after
all and leaving the group. That was mighty embarrassing
when the media came calling and asked about the status of
their high-publicized success stories.
AR didn't just say it had a gay cure, it
- They published two books on the subject, including
the infamous The H Persuasion in 1971. That
book chronicled the success stories about four men who
had supposedly been cured of their gayness. But in
point of fact, three of them decided they were really
still gay and left the group, and the fourth one is
- They made a film about it called We Have
- They took out big ads in major newspapers like the
New York Times, trumpeting the gay cure. (See the top
right of this page.)
- They held vigils in front of the New York Times
building because the Times refused to report about the
gay cure. (This was one of the things I'm embarrassed
to say I participated in when I was still a
- Perhaps most significantly, they held therapy
sessions ("consultations") for people who wanted to
stop being gay. Here's a
transcript of one such therapy session. Some of
the former counselors of the gay cure are still active
with the group, such as Dale Laurin.
If you talk to the AR people now, they'll
they had a gay cure. They're really
clever with their words, so you have to know how to ask
your questions, and how to interpret their answers.
Here's a guide to their answers, and what they're leaving
Aesthetic Realist's answer
What they're not telling you
So you show people how to change from
No, the Aesthetic Realism Foundation absolutely
does not counsel people on how to not be gay.
This was our main business in the 70's and 80's,
but we don't do it any more.
Did you claim to have a cure for
No, Aesthetic Realism never claimed to
have a cure for homosexuality.
We simply never used the word "cure". We said we
could show people how to change from homosexuality,
but we cleverly never used the "cure" word itself.
What's your current position about this?
We stopped helping people change long ago. We're
for "full civil rights for everyone".
The reason we abandoned the cure wasn't because
we realized it was wrong, but because it wasn't
working. We've never admitted we were wrong, and
have certainly never apologized for our efforts to
change gays. That is, we still hold the same
opinions, we just don't make them public any more.
Saying we believe in "full civil rights" is true
and masks the fact that we continue to believe that
homosexuality is a psychological disorder caused by
Can people change from homosexuality as a result
of studying Aesthetic Realism?
Yes, it is a fact that people have changed as a
result of studying AR.
In fact, the overwhelming majority of people who
underwent the cure couldn't stay "changed" and
decided they were really gay after all (and left the
Whenever someone brings up the gay care, the AR
people shriek, "That was in the past! That was a long
time ago!" But what they're not admitting is that while
they no longer offer their program for change,
their opinions haven't changed at all. Here's what
one of the AR teachers said on Wikipedia:
The Aesthetic Realism
Foundation formally discontinued this single aspect of
study because it was being sucked into the culture
wars--with the far Right trying to use it to promote
their bigoted agenda against homosexuality and the far
Left furious at anything that even remotely suggested
homosexuality was not biological. In such an
atmosphere Aesthetic Realism's sensible,
philosophic approach to the subject didn't stand a
chance of being considered reasonably. (emphasis
Who are you?
I'm Michael Bluejay, a former member. I
was born into it, just like my
mother was. (My maternal grandparents were members too.)
I had at least one "lesson" with the cult leader when I
was two years old. I also had "consultations" at the cult
headquarters when I was 12. My family didn't completely
end its involvement completely until I was a teenager. However,
majority of writing on this website is not
my own, it's that of over a
dozen other former members like me, as well as coverage in
AR says you're not credible. How do you respond to
It's not just me saying this. This site
contains the voices of nearly
different former members who all say pretty much
the same thing. And noted cult experts like Steve
Hassan and Arnold
Markowitz also agree that Aesthetic Realism is a
cult. Heck, people were calling AR a cult before I was
born, as this ad in the
Voice shows. The founder Eli Siegel referenced that others
is a cult, in a lesson I had with him
when I was two years old. And above you can see sources like the
York Times, Harper's, New York Magazine, etc. referring to AR as
cult. So it's not just me [Michael Bluejay] saying this.
Not by a
Another thing the AR people like to claim is that
my family left the group when I was two years old, which
not true. Take a look at the
pictures on this page, where I'm dutifully wearing my
Aesthetic Realism button. How old do I look to you? (In
those photos, I'm 12.) That same summer I had multiple
"consultations" (therapy sessions) at AR's headquarters,
participated in an AR vigil in front of the NY Times
building, and attended other classes and presentations at
AR's headquarters. Back in Texas, I attended the AR study
group that my mother put together.
And if the AR people are so sure I'm wrong, why are
they so afraid to debate me? I first invited them to
debate years ago and since then I've had a standing
to debate. But they won't even acknowledge it,
much less accept. Here's a video
where I confront Arnold Perey and ask him to debate
(after he claimed on Wikipedia that I'm afraid to
debate!). Perey wouldn't even acknowledge me.
At least one AR person told someone they won't
debate me because I'm just some unimportant nobody who's
not worth their time. If that's the case, why did
they put together a 119-page
website (!) whose primary purpose is to combat
the things I'm saying? How much effort did that
What about AR's claim that all their critics are anonymous?
They wish! Here are former members who
have all gone on record with their real names, telling about
experiences in the group:
- Michael Bluejay
- Paul Grossman
- Gerri-Ellen Harmon
- Heide Krakauer
- Hal Lanse, Ph.D.
- Adam Mali
- Ron Schmidt
- Wayne Smith
- Ann Stamler
The AR people mount a fierce defense on Countering the
Lies. How do you respond to that?
The devil is in the details. For example, they
cleverly say they never had a gay cure. In
fact they did profess to have a gay cure, but they just never
actual word "cure" to describe it. So they deceive by omission.
everything else on that site falls into the same
category. I could write a book....
But fortunately I don't have to. After Countering the
Lies went up, a former member sent me a
veritable tome about their experience in the group,
explaining along the way exactly what the AR people are
cleverly leaving out of their answers on Countering the
How did Eli Siegel die?
Eli Siegel killed himself. He was 76
years old and unhappy with the results of his prostate
surgery. The current AR people of course say that he was
in "unbearable pain", though others who left dispute
this. In any event, he took
own life with an intentional overdose of
prescription drugs after careful consultation and
planning with his students. Some of them attended. But no
doctor attended, so it wasn't euthanasia.
We know all this because of two reasons: One,
enough former members have come forward to tell this
story and corroborate it. Second, the AR people typically
have refused to say exactly how Siegel died, but have
alluded to suicide saying
like "Eli Siegel died with dignity.... What
death with dignity means to people today, thanks to the
Hemlock Society and other Death with Dignity
organizations, is that one has died by his own hand."
For the record, I respect anyone's desire to end
their own life. What makes Siegel's case unique is
that he had previously railed against suicide as a form
of contempt. And when the man who says he has the one
true answer to universal peace and happiness takes his
own life, that does give you pause. But really, the biggest
part of the scandal is that Siegel is that the AR people
won't even admit that Siegel killed himself. They say I'm
a "liar" for saying he did. Meanwhile, they won't say
exactly how he died. They say alternately that he "died
with dignity" or that he "died of a broken heart" or that
his death was "the result of an operation" -- the latter
being another clever twisting of words. "The result"
being that Siegel decided to take his life after being
dissatisfied with the operation, not that the operation
itself killed him.
Tell me about the $4,000 NY state grant in April
NY Assemblyman Felix Ortiz awarded the AR
Foundation $4,000 from the State budget, to support some
art classes the group holds. I don't want to be hard
on Ortiz, since he likely had no idea what the AR people are
all about. And they do indeed give art classes, though in
reality those classes are an opportunity for recruitment.
In fact, a former member describes clearly how
was sucked into the group one small step at a
time, starting with art classes.
AR should operate on their own dime. Taxpayer money
shouldn't be used to give a handout to a group which
In any event, when Ortiz learned about the true
background of the group, he apparently revoked their
Questions to ask the Aesthetic Realists
When talking to AR people, you have to word
your questions carefully and interpret their answers
carefully if you want your questioning to be
successful. If they can find a technicality that
gives them an out to deceive you about something they'd
rather not admit, they will. Since I'm familiar with
their most frequent obfuscations, I can suggest some
pointed questions to ask them.
Was Eli Siegel the greatest person ever to
live? They believe this, and they'll
probably readily admit to it. But that's pretty good
proof about how fanatic they are in their beliefs.
Did the Aesthetic Realism Foundation offer
consultations to help people change from
homosexuality? If you word it this way you'll
likely get the accurate answer -- yes. If you word it any
other way then you'll probably get the wrong answer,
Did Eli Siegel say that homosexuality was a form
of selfishness? He did, in the 1971 book The
Did Eli Siegel's life end after he intentionally
took an overdose of prescription medications? This
is the way
you have to ask this question,
leaving no room for error, though they will still
probably deny it anyway. The spokesperson might say
something like "I don't know, I wasn't there," which is
an obvious way to avoid answering. But if they claim they
don't know how he died because they weren't there, then
the obvious followup is:
How can you say that Bluejay et al are lying
when they say that Siegel killed himself, if you're
telling me that you don't know how he died because you
Aesthetic Realism glossary / groupspeak
Every cult has its own internal language,
and AR is no exception. Here's a
list of special AR terms and what they mean.
Excerpts of certain articles
(back to the list of
"Contempt causes insanity: The guru of aesthetic
realism" (Harpers, April 1982, by Hugh Kenner)
"When rumor got out
that [this article] had been scheduled,
someone rang Harper's to ask if it would be
'fair'..... 'Fair' is a word favored by the Aesthetic
Realists, a.k.a. the Embattled Disciples of Eli Siegel
and, in some of their incarnations, the Moonies of
Poetry. They also favor impersonal constructions,
world like "large" and "good," boiler plate like
"having-to-do-with." What they push isn't poetry,
though poetry is part of it; they push Aesthetic
Realism, the banner of a way to psychic wholeness
taught by Eli Siegel for forty years. They will
testify that he changed their lives, and they cannot
get over it. A few months ago some of them rushed a
talk show on homosexuality and gave Phil Donahue a
hard time. (Are you whole and serene if you stay
obsessed with your deliverance? Donahue was too
flustered to ask.) ... Thus the title, Self and
World, of a posthumous prose 'Explanation of
Aesthetic Realism,' from which we (and the press) can
at last learn what the press has been Unfair to. Not
that we're allowed to forget the intensity of
discipleship that pickets, flaunts buttons, and
testifies in chorus. At the book's threshold you bang
your head on an introductory note by Martha Baird
Siegel, who says Self and World is 'the
greatest book ever to have been written. If you think
I am saying greater than the Bible or
Shakespeare--yes, I am.' After that, you'll not be
blamed for walking warily. ... Sentence by sentence
[Siegel] can be sweetly credible, and you'll
not miss what he's overlooking till you come up for
reflection. ... The introductory note laments what
[Siegel's] isolation may have cost us: 'He
thought, for example, if he had been able to work with
doctors, he could have found the cause of cancer.' I'm
afraid he did think that."
"FYI Put those fears away, all
citizens-to-be" (Robin Green, The Globe and Mail,
Apr 28, 1978. p.8)
"Pity the lot of the
Aesthetic Realists, a New York-based group with fewer than
who are mad at the New York Times because the Times, they
refuses to print a story that 123 homosexuals have changed
heterosexuality) through Aesthetic Realism. In fact, the AR
so mad they've been bombarding the Times' city desk with
more than 65
calls a day demanding that the story be run. Not just that -
also taken to holding vigils in front of publisher C. L.
Sulzberger's home and those of other top Times officials,
staging little protests in the Times news room. It's really
funny, in a sad sort of way, a friend at the Times tells us.
in a couple of times a week - three sorry-looking guys
flanked by two
women. The guys wear signs around their necks saying
something like 'I
used to be a homosexual but Eli Segal (founder of the AR
saved me.' At least they had an identity when they were gay;
look as if they've been put through the laundry. The Times,
understand, is holding to its rise-above-it-all stance and
has no plans
to publish the story."
The New York Times' review of AR's first gay
book (Sept. 12, 1971)
"This is less a book
than a collection of pietistic snippets by Believers.
There is no reason to believe or disbelieve these
ex-homosexuals who claim that Eli Siegel put them on
the straight and narrow by showing that homosexuality
was unaesthetic and therefore contemptuous of life. By
the aesthetic realization that Beauty lies in
Opposites, they were cured. Nor is there reason to
believe that anyone reading this volume would be
moved, intrigued, or piqued enough to try the
cure." (This is actually the
full text of the review, not an excerpt.)
Former members describe Aesthetic Realism
- The ULTIMATE statement by a former member. Wow. A former Aesthetic Realism member who was involved for over ten years and into the 1990's sent us this incredibly detailed account of what life inside AR is like. This puts to rest once and for all any lingering question about whether AR is a cult - it is. The AR people will not be able to "counter" this on their Countering the Lies website because this account is from one of their own, and because it's so exhaustively detailed.
- A tale of getting sucked in. Another former member shares his experiences. This story is unique because he describes exactly how he initially got drawn in, and how he then kept getting more and more involved.
- Growing up in Aesthetic Realism. What it's like to be born into a cult.
- Aesthetic Realism ruined his marriage. "[It] introduced a level of stress in my marriage that had not previously existed....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." This former member also wrote about AR on Steve Hassan's Freedom of Mind.
- On having all the answers. A former member explains how AR members think they have all the answers, and feel qualified to lecture others about how they should view personal tragedy.
- Kicked out for remaining gay. A former student describes how he was kicked out of AR because he couldn't change from homosexuality. Powerful stuff.
- "Leaving, however, was only the first challenge.". One of the original teachers of Aesthetic Realism explains the cultic environment inside the group, and how she got out.
- "If I disappointed them, then I now consider that a badge of honor." A former member tells how AR try to change him from being gay, and convinced him not to spend Christmas with his family.
- "This is merely one example of the way people were controlled and humiliated if they stepped out of line...". The experiences shared with us by a member from 1974-80, now a Fortune 100 executive.
- "I want Ellen Reiss questioned!" A former member tells her story, and wonders why there hasn't been a class-action lawsuit against the foundation yet.
- They took his consultation tape. A former student describes how AR people kept his consultation tape with his most intimate thoughts on it, and told him he couldn't study any more unless he incorporated AR more radically into his life.
- "There isn't any question: Eli Siegel killed himself.". A former member who sought AR's "gay cure" describes how the group's leaders admitted that the founder took his own life.
- "I personally know at least half of the contributors to AR's Countering the Lies website and know them to either be fibbing or having a long-term memory problem.". A former member
from 1971-80, confirms that AR students don't see their families, are discouraged from attending college, and shun other members. He also offers that he was mistaken when he was involved about thinking that AR had changed him from homosexuality.
- Aesthetic Realism debunked. A former student explains the cult aspects of AR. Originally written for Steve Hassan's Freedom of Mind website.
- Michael Bluejay's description. This whole website is my statement about Aesthetic Realism. But in this article I describe my family's involvement in more detail.
- Members interviewed in Jewish Times. This lengthy article in Jewish Times quotes former students of Aesthetic Realism extensively.
- NY Post article. A series of articles in the NY Post quotes many former members who are now critical of the group.
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Aesthetic Realism at a Glance
Aesthetic Realism Foundation
|Eli Siegel, poet and art/literary critic.
Committed suicide in 1978
|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.
|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
|New York City (SoHo)
|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).
- 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
- Odd, specialized language.
More about cult aspects...
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