Aesthetic Realism is a cult

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My lesson with Eli Siegel

I have the distinction of having had a "lesson" with the founder and leader of Aesthetic Realism, Eli Siegel, when I was two years old. This is the transcript of that lesson. It pretty much speaks for itself—especially the part where Siegel encourages the adults present to taunt me to get me to cry, shrieking "Cry some more!  Cry some more!" at me in rounds.

When I got older I had AR "consultations", where the consultants' goal is to induce guilt, break your will, and steer you closer to proclaiming your undying devotion to Aesthetic Realism and Eli Siegel. These things are absent from my lesson with Siegel below, since I was only two -- but there's certainly enough other bizarre stuff of interest in that lesson.

Forty-seven people attended this lesson. Where are they now?

  • 30 left
  •  3 committed suicide while in AR (Eli Siegel, Martha Baird, William E. Sebring)
  •  2 others died while in AR (Jack Musicant [my grandfather], Carmen de Gomar)
  • 12 are still in (Arnold Perey, Margot Carpenter, Devorah Tarrow, Alice Bernstein, David Bernstein, Ken Kimmelman, John Stern, Karen van Outryve, Carrie Wilson, Miriam Mondlin, Barbara D'Amico [now Barbara Kestenbaum], Faith Kestenbaum [now Faith Stern])

In the transcript I changed the names of people who left, since they apparently no longer wish to be associated with AR.  I kept the names of myself and my mother intact, since we're both out about our former involvement in AR.  (We happen to have different names now, though.)

People of note in this lesson include:

Left the group

MAF - Michael Andrew Freedman

Me (this was my birth name before I changed it)

GEF - Gerri-Ellen Freedman

My mother

RF - Roger Freedman

My biological father

MM - May Musicant

My grandmother (mother's mother)

TF - Tim Fields

Two of the success stories of the "gay cure" profiled in AR's first book about it. The cure wasn't permanent for them and they left.

RH - Ray Harrison

RT - Rebecca Thompson

Siegel's paramour. Died circa 2002.

Still involved

AB - Alice Bernstein

My aunt (mother's older sister). She's one of my fiercest critics at CounteringTheLies.com.

AP - Arnold Perey

Leading the charge on Wikipedia to remove any reference to AR being a cult, Siegel killing himself, or any other criticism.

MC - Margot Carpenter

Currently the Executive Director of the AR Foundation

Died while in AR

ES - Eli Siegel

The cult leader. Comitted suicide in 1978.

MB - Martha Baird

Siegel's wife. She took her life a couple of years after Siegel took his.

WS - William E. Sebring

Took his life while in AR.

JM - Jack Musicant

My grandfather (mother's father)

This is my favorite exchange from the lesson below. I think I have the perfect comeback:

BARBARA DAWSON

I was just saying, the look that was on Michael Andrew's face as we were singing was something worth a lifetime to see.

MAF

I want water.

 

And this is too funny not to call out for special mention:

My cousin, Rachel Bernstein, on CounteringTheLies.com, praising Siegel's kindness:

My first objection is to [Bluejay's] attack on Eli Siegel, who was kind to every person he met.... I feel very fortunate that I had the privilege of studying with Mr. Siegel in lessons I attended with my parents, starting at age 2 1/2. As a child, I distinctly remember the respect he showed to me. And the questions he asked me were so kind, and encouraged my intelligence and critical thought.

Eli Siegel, speaking to me at my lesson when I was two years old:

I can cry better than you. [ES CRIES, and MAF CRIES-ES CRIES LOUDER: "I want mama."] You shouldn't run your mother. It's bad for the soul.

Super-special thanks to my friend Rhys Southan of Beat Jeremy Coon for typing the transcript for me.


Aesthetic Realism Lesson of Michael Andrew Freedman [Age 2]

CONDUCTED BY ELI SIEGEL


[Eli Siegel enters crowded classroom. MAF is wandering about]

ELI SIEGEL

Where is this child's mother?

JEAN FREEDMAN

Right here.

ES

Does this person do much wandering?

JF

Yes he does, Mr. Siegel. He very rarely sits still.

ES

Ask him, because it's good to be conscious. Would you ask him: Do you do much wandering? Michael Andrew, your mother is going to ask you something.

JF

Michael, do you do much wandering? [NO REPLY]

ES

[to JF] Do you do much wandering?

JF

I certainly do, yes.

ES

So how would you describe the feeling of Michael Andrew at this time? It's a very human feeling.

JF

Well, I think he's trying to place where he is.

ES

Use one adjective.

JF

Oh, adjective.

ES

Yes.

JF

Wondering.

ES

Wondering--all right. Mr. Freedman, you use an adjective. I want to say that Michael Andrew can have a couple hundred adjectives used of him.

ROGER FREEDMAN

I think content. I think he's contented.

ES

Content?

RF

Yes.

ES

I hope so, but would you say he was puzzled?

RF

Yes.

ES

Would you also say that if he's going to be restless soon he'd be elusive? Well, Miss Tarrow, would you use an adjective about Michael Andrew? You're supposed to know something about mind.

DEVORAH TARROW

Delighted.

ES

Would you say he was competitive?

DT

Yes.

ES

He was delighted? [TO MAF] Look, are you competitive? Are you? Do you know the free enterprise system is vanishing? Didn't you hear about the Left [LAUGHTER FROM COMPANY] Are you competitive? All right, you can't answer. Mrs. D'Amico--we can have another adjective about you. [MAF PLAYS WITH HIS HAIR] Would you say he was pretty?

BARBARA D'AMICO

Yes.

ES:

Yes, let's be phony for a while. [LAUGHTER. TO MAF] Are you pretty? Chuck Vinard is pretty. Are you pretty? [MAF IS STANDING, CURLING HIS HAIR. LAUGHTER] Mr. Bonola, would you use an adjective about him?

ALAN BONOLA

Modest.

ES

Modest? I'm not sure about that. [COMPANY AGREES] I'm not sure.

ALAN BONOLA

I would say a little bewildered.

ES

Yes, I would say so. I think he's a little tentative. Miss Carpenter?

MARGOT CARPENTER

I think he's being critical.

ES

He is critical, but I don't think that primitive children--Mr. Perey, would you say that primitive children wear jumpers? [LAUGHTER. TO MAF] See, right away you gave yourself up as primitive. So he's unprimitive?

ARNOLD PEREY

He is.

ES

You see he's wearing something that you wouldn't associate with an island. Mr. Hampton?

RAY HAMPTON

Curious.

ES

Curious--but what's an obvious thing? I don't know, which one do you want--ask him which one he wants--does he want to be called immature or younger, secretly. Ask him what does he want to be called. [CHUCK VINARD ASKS MAF SECRETLY WHICH HE WANTS TO BE CALLED] Which one? Did he say?

CHUCK VINARD

Young.

ES

What is an adjective you'd give Michael Andrew? Very often young people are--also older people. Silent. Now, what's another word for silent that rhymes with ill?--Chuck Vinard? It's a synonym for silent. Still. It rhymes with ill--does it?

CV

Yes.

ES

All right. And what is a word which is the antonym of still and rhymes with "New Joisey"? [LAUGHTER]

CV

Noisy.

ES

Is this person noisy?

JF

Yes.

ES

[TO MAF] Would you favor us with some noise? I want to tell you this, when Alan Kellerman was first here, he raised hell. He wasn't silent the way you were. He raised hell and everybody knew he was here.

EVELYN KELLERMAN

I'm very affected because Alan wore something very similar and was about that size. He was very different--he did raise hell.

ES

That's right. Now, what is a girl's name, Mrs. Kellerman, that rhymes with hell? Nell.

RAY HARRISON

Or Belle.

ES

And Mr. Freedman, what is a word that is in assonance with Michael?

RF

In assonance with Michael?

ES

Yes, almost a rhyme--not quite. I take it that Michael Andrew is listening. He won't say anything, and that is to be understood.

RF

I think he's listening.

ES

Yes, I think he's listening. Secretly, you are. So what is a word in assonance with Michael?

RF


ES

NO, in assonance.

RF

I don't think I know.

ES

It rhymes with sickle. Fickle. Now Chuck Vinard--

CV

Yes.

ES

Can you sing these two words [ES SINGS] Fickle Michael. Fickle Michael. Can you sing them?

CV

Yes, I guess so. Should I?

ES

Yes.

CV

Just like you did?

ES

[SINGS] Fickle Michael.

CV

Okay.

ES

Can you do that? Go ahead.

CV

[SINGS] Fickle Michael.

ES

Ask him if he heard that. He's not very good at acting as if he didn't hear. He almost reminds me of the New York Times editors. [LAUGHTER] They learn that early. Ask him if he's hearing what's going on.

CV

Michael, are you hearing what's going on?

MICHAEL ANDREW FREEDMAN

Going on.

ES

I think that means yes.

JF

He said "Going on."

ES

[MAF STANDS BESIDE ES] I take it you're shaking your left foot. [TO MAF WHO STOPS SHAKING HIS FOOT] No, you were shaking your left foot. Is that correct, or is that introspective psychology? [LAUGHTER FROM COMPANY] Were you shaking your left foot? Mr. Freedman, was he shaking his left foot?

RF

Yes he was.

ES

Do you think it was rhythmical?

RF

Yes.

ES

Do you think one of the reason was to maintain his composure? For instance, this is rhythmical. [ES WAVES HIS ARM SLOWLY]

MAF

Here mommy. [MAF GOES TOWARD HIS MOTHER]

RF

I think so--

ES

You tell him I'm very hurt because he left me so soon. I'm very hurt.

JF

Michael, Mr. Siegel is very hurt.

ES

I feel like one of the family almost.

JF

He's very hurt because you left him so soon.

MAF

Here mommy.

ES

Well, all right, I'm very hurt. [MAF GOES TO ES] You're coming back. I am unlike other monarchs, I like somebody near me on the throne. [LAUGHTER FROM COMPANY] Well, Miss Adams, what is a rhyme for throne, which sometimes is needless?

MARILYN ADAMS

Alone?

ES

Yes, but there's another one. [MAF STANDS NEAR ES. TO MAF] Well your hair has been well taken care of. What's a word that rhymes, which is sometimes needless?

MA

Stone?

ES

Moan. [TO MAF] Did you hear that? Ask him if he heard that.

CF

Did you hear that?

ES

[TO CV] Would you imitate a moan? [TO MAF] Now you don't leave me again, hear? [ES MOANS. TO CV] Go ahead.

CV

[MOANS]

ES

It's almost like a groan. All right, we're going to ask some more questions. Mr. Berkman, what is a rhyme for child that means primitive and unfettered?

LARRY BERKMAN

Wild.

ES

Wild, that's right. [MAF CLIMBS ON STOOL AND PLAYS WITH TELEPHONE] Is this boy wild?

JF

Oh yes.



ES

He is?

JF

Yes.

ES

[TO MAF] Are you wild? Are you? Well that's a sort of semi-wildness. I want to show you I'm wild. Look.

MARTHA BAIRD

Put the parts of the telephone away.

ES

Now let's have a scene here. Will you take this person and put him on your lap, to show that older people can be wild too? [JF TAKES MAF TO HER LAP. TO MAF] Now cry, we all expect you to cry. [ES CRIES. LAUGHTER FROM COMPANY.] I want to get this over to you. This telephone is a very important phase of Aesthetic Realism business. We don't let amateurs handle it. You are an amateur, do you understand? Now do you want to cry? This is your time.

MAF

No.

ES

Yes. Cry, shall we say, as American children do. This is your time. Now don't cry later. All right we'll go on. Next we'll have a little incident around here. [MAF WHINES] You have very pretty feet and your shoes are quite white. [MAF GETS OFF JF'S LAP AND GOES TO TELEPHONE. ES GROWLS] No. [MAF STANDS PERPLEXED. LAUGHTER FROM COMPANY] I'm going to ask your Aunt for comment. Alice Bernstein, the Muses were how many in number?

ALICE BERNSTEIN

The Muses? I think there were nine.

ES

That's what he wanted to hear; that's why he came--to see how many Muses there were. How many are there?

ALICE B.

I think there were nine.

ES

That's right. Does that rhyme with Bernstein?

AB

Yes.

ES

Isn't that fine?

AB

That's wonderful.

ES

That's fine. The Muses nine rhyme with Bernstein. Can you say that, Chips Vinai?

CV

Yes.

ES

It's fine that the Muses nine rhyme with Bernstein. Show off for him, he can't say that. Go on, say it.

CV

It's fine that the Muses nine rhyme with Bernstein.

ES

[TO MAF WHO IS ON JF'S LAP] Now see if you can say it. I bet you can't. If you can say it, I'll let you look at the telephone. [LAUGHTER FROM COMPANY] David Bernstein, what are your impressions so far?

DAVID BERNSTEIN

I've very much excited by this lesson, Mr. Siegel. It has to do with--

ES

Don't be too excited. It's informative and Michael Andrew is among friends. It's true that they can roar at him, but still...

DB

It has to do with knowing a person, Mr. Siegel. I feel I don't know too much about Michael Andrew.

ES

You sound a little too sad. That's right, so find out more.

DB

I'm very much affected by the way he looks today.

ES

The way he's silent and the way he talks?

DB

Yes, I'm affected by that too.

ES

What is a word that rhymes with affected, which many people feel? [COMPANY TRIES TO ASSIST] No, Mr. Bernstein.

DB

Collected?

ES

Collected--no, that's another one. Right now, that's what he [MAF] wants to feel.

DB

Well I heard Miriam Mondlin say neglected.

ES

Neglected--and there's another one. [COMPANY SAYS "REJECTED"] Rejected. There are quite a few words.

MAF

That's mine.

RF

This is yours. Do you want yours?

MAF


ES

I think he's eminently well behaved, everything considering. I think you could almost say you're a model child. [LAUGHTER FROM COMPANY] Slightly withdrawn.

RF

Jean doesn't feel that.

ES

Oh well, mothers don't know their children. Mr. Bonola, I'm going to ask a question of you. He has a second name, Andrew. What is a word that shows man to be kind to each other in two syllables and rhymes with Andrew? It's almost in assonance.

MAF

That's Mr. Siegel.

ES

The second syllable is the name of a magazine.

ALAN B.

Andrew--

ES

It's an interesting rhyme and it means--it shows that people can help each other.

AB

Can help each other.

ES

Yes, and the second syllable is the name of a magazine.

AB

Rescue.

ES

That's right--rescue. See if he can say that.

JF

[TO MAF] Can you say "rescue"?

MAF

Rescue.

ES

Rescue. Thank you, you took part. {ES STANDS AND SHAKES HANDS WITH MAF] You are now, what shall I say?--participating--what's the word?--you're now of the moment.

MAF

No more phone. [LAUGHTER FROM COMPANY]

ES

Mr. Hoyle, there's a word which rhymes with your name it's what mothers are worried about when their children wear white--that something will occur rhyming with your name. It's also the name of the ground. The Jewish people say we can do it to our souls.

MAF


ES

As they say in Brooklyn, "He sulrled his soul." Soil. See if you can say that. Michael Andrew, can you say soil?

MAF

No.

ES

Good, it's a sort of grudging taking part, but quite good. Now the next thing is Margot Carpenter--do you know who Margot Carpenter is?

RF

He does.

ES

Miss Carpenter?

MC

Yes.

ES

Since you've been doing such wonderful work for Aesthetic Realism, will you stand up--though it's a hot day--and take the show away from Michael Andrew? [MC STANDS. APPLAUSE FROM COMPANY. TO MAF] Did you applaud?

MAF

Applaud.

ES

Why don't you applaud to show that other people exist besides you?

MAF

Give me--

ES

And not carrying on your own business. So Miss Carpenter, there's a rhyme meaning very respectful of something and somewhat afraid, rhyming with applaud. Can you think of it?

MC

Two syllables?

ES

One syllable.

MC

Laud?

ES

Laud? No, I don't mean that one. When we look at the stars, what are we? Did you ever look at the stars?

COMPANY

Awed.

ES

Awed. Very good. Now, I want to introduce formally, the Secretary of the Society for Aesthetic Realism, Martha Baird, who will take the show away as Miss Carpenter did, from Michael Andrew. {MARTHA BAIRD STANDS, APPLAUS FROM COMPANY] Grudgingly--

MARTHA BAIRD

He didn't even look at me.

ES

Will you applaud? Will you applaud, or are you going to be mad?

MB

He didn't even look at me.

ES

Yes he did.

MB

He did? Okay.

MAF

I did! [LAUGTER FROM COMPANY]

ES

Jean, will you ask him if this is doing him any good?

JF

Michael, is this doing you any good?

ES

Otherwise we're going to change the show.

JF

Is this doing you any good?

MAF

I did it, I did it.

ES

I think he means yes. [COMPANY AGREES]

MAF

I did it. [MAF APPLAUDS]

ES

Thank you, thank you. Well after all, the beginnings of things are difficult. I'd like everybody to take part in this. Barbara D'Amico, what's a city that rhymes with your name?

BARBARA D'AMICO

With D'Amico?

ES

Sort of--assonance.

B D'A

Toledo?

ES

Toledo--but there's another one, bigger.

MAF

I want water.

B D'A

San Francisco.

ES

But there's another one. There's Toledo, San Francisco and one more.

MAF


ES

God he's good at acting as if he didn't hear anything. I'm just telling you--wonderful. Where did you get it, kid, where did you get it?

B D'A

Chicago.

ES

CHICAGO! Do you hear me? He's really wonderful. What do you think, Mrs. Kellerman?

EK

I think he is wonderful.

ES

He is excellent.

MAF

I want some water.

ES

Terry D'Afrido, what goes to Staten Island that rhymes with your name?

TERRY D'AFRIDO

Ferry.

ES

That's right. And has this person been on the ferry?

JF

Yes.

ES

He has. All right, ask him what he remembers of it. [ES GIVES MAF THE BALL OF PAPER]

MAF

Mr. Siegel.

JF

What do you remember from being on the ferry, Michael?

MAF

Give me paper.

ES

What do you remember from being on the ferry?

MAF

Give me paper. Where's the paper?

ES

Here. [ES GIVES MAF BALL OF PAPER] Now what do you remember from being on the ferry? All right, I'm going to have Terry D'Afrido show that she knows more than Michael Andrew. I'm going to prove it. Terry D'Afrido, what do you think of the Staten Island Ferry?

TD'A

I liked it.

ES

Do you remember being on it?

TD'A

Yes.

ES

Are you superior to this person [MAF] who doesn't remember? Of course you are. Do you feel superior to this person who doesn't remember?

T D'A

Yes.

MAF


ES

Are you more expressive on this subject?

TD'A

Yes.

ES

What is the chief thing that you remember?

TD'A

I remember going to the Statue of Liberty.

ES

Is there anything else you remember?

MAF


TD'A

I felt kind of sick.

ES

What else was there? I can make a little poem out of that: Sky and water and me/With me did not agree. Is that all right? So how about sky and water and me just so? [TO MAF] Do you know what the sky is? MAF LOOKS UP AND POINTS TO CEILING]

MAF

Sky.

ES

Do you know what the sky is? [MAF STANDS FACING ES] Do you know what the sky is? When Terry D'Afrido was on the Staten Island Ferry, she saw the world as sky and water and a pretty big ship. Did you?

TD'A

Yes.

ES

Sky and water and me can agree. Will you say that? Jean, will you say it?

JF

Sky and water and me can agree.

ES

Roger Freedman.

RF

Sky and water and me can agree.

ES

That's right. Alice Bernstein.

AB

Sky and water and me can agree.

ES

Jody Musicant.

MAF

Where's Rachel? Where's Alice?

ES

Look--Jody Musicant is going to say a poem.

MAF

Where's Alice?

JODY MUSICANT

Sky and water and me can agree.

ES

Jack Musicant.

JACK MUSICANT

Sky and water and me can agree.

ES

May Musicant.

MAY MUSICANT

Sky and water and me can agree.

ES

I think the Musicants have been united. [CHEERS FROM COMPANY. TO MAF] Now, look dear. You're going to act tough, but I know you're just a miniature person as yet. You say that: Sky and water and me can agree. Can you say it? All the Musicants said it.

MAF

I want some water.

ES

And your mother said it.

MAF

Water.

VOICE:

He said water.

MAF


ES

Did you ever hear of Wordsworth? I take it you haven't. All right, we got somewhere. Going on. Miss Dawson--

MAF


ES

What is a great astronomical body that rhymes with your name?

BARBARA DAWSON

Dawson?

ES

Yes, your name. It hasn't been visited yet and won't be for a while.

BD

Sun.

ES

That's right. [TO MAF] I don't know how much you know, but do you know what the sun is? [MAF WALKS AWAY] I want to tell you something. Will you listen? I once asked a mother about her boy and I asked her whether she or the sun was a better friend to the boy.

MAF


ES

Is your mother or the sun a better friend to you?

MAF


ES

Ask him.

JF

Am I or the sun a better friend to you, Michael?

MAF

Sit down. Sit down.

ES

Who?

JF

He said "Sit down." He wants me to sit on the floor.

MAF

Sit down.

ES

Can you?

JF

Yes.

ES

All right, if you can, do. We'll fight about the main issues like the telephone, but not the minor ones. [JF SITS ON FLOOR. MAF CRIES AND STAMPS] That's so fine. Go ahead, please go on, please go on. We'll applaud him. [APPLAUSE FROM COMPANY AS MAF CRIES] Opposites Company, here's your chance. In quick succession "Cry some more."

OPPOSITES COMPANY TOGETHER:

Cry some more! [MAF STOPS CRYING]

ES

Good. Heller.

JAMES HELLER

Cry some more!

REBECCA THOMPSON

Cry some more!

ES

Von Griessemer

TED VON GRIESSEMER

Cry some more!

ES

Weiner.

CHERYL WEINER

Cry some more!

ES

Page.

DAVID PAGE

Cry some more!

ES

Dawson.

BARBARA DAWSON

Cry some more!

ES

Fields.

TIM FIELDS

Cry some more!

ES

Carpenter.

MARGOT CARPENTER

Cry some more!

ES

Whom have I--

KAREN VAN OUTRYVE

Van Outryve.

ES

Yes, Van Outryve.

KVO

Cry some more!

DAVID Newlin

Cry some more!

ES

Cry some more!

RAY HARRISON

Cry some more!

MARILYN ADAMS

Cry some more!

ES

Now all in a chorus.

COMPANY:

CRY SOME MORE!

ES

Thanks you. [APPLAUSE AND CHEERS] When other persons cry around here we don't like it, but when you cry, we can't have enough of it. Do you understand, or is that too difficult for you?

MAF

No more phone. [LAUGHTER FROM COMPANY. CRIES FROM COMPANY OF "NO MORE PHONE."]

ES

Would you like for me to get sarcastic a little? I hear Miss Wilson has to leave soon. Do you want to say something to this person?

MAF


ES

This is an eminent member of the New York theatre, Carrie Wilson. Stand up--[CW STANDS UP, APPLAUSE FROM COMPANY]

CARRIE WILSON

Michael Andrew, Mr. Siegel is your friend and I want to make sure that you know that.

ES

All right. Anyway, do you know who Miss Wilson is?

MAF

I want you [JF] to go up.

ES

I want to say this to you--Miss Wilson is going to Philadelphia, a city I feel you've never been at.

MAF

Get up mommy.

ES

Do you think he's listening? Yes he's listening. He's listening. This is his way of maintaining his supremacy.

MAF

Get up. Get up mommy.

ES

I want to ask you this: AM I listening to you?

MAF

Get up mommy.

ES

That's what you said just now "uh oh." It shows I listen. Now say something and see if I listen. I bet you can't listen to me. You can't listen to Miss Wilson. Go ahead, say something. He won't listen. Go ahead.

CW

Michael Andrew--

ES

How sweet the moon lies on the summer bank. How is that line in the Merchant of Venice?

CW

The moon lies on a summer bank.

ES

Yes. [TO MAF] Did you listen?

MB

On such a night.

ES

On such a night. Now you say something and Miss Wilson will listen.

MAF

[PULLING ON JF'S ARM] Get up mommy.

ES

[TO CW] Did you hear that?

CW

I heard it.

ES

That's right, and I heard it too. [TO MAF] Everybody listens to you.

MAF

Get up mommy.

ES

"uh uh, uh uh" put it down.

MARTHA BAIRD

"uh uh"--I got it. [MB WRITES IT DOWN] [COMPANY REPEATS MAF'S SOUNDS]

VOICE

He wants Jean to get up.

ES

"Up up"--go ahead, say something and we'll listen.

MAF

No.

ES

"No"--we all heard you. We even hear you breathe. Well Miss Wilson, that was very dramatic, and if Philadelphia calls for you, you go whenever it is necessary.

MAF

Get up mommy.

CW

Bye-bye, Michael. Bye-bye. Bye.

MAF

Uh--

ES

"Uh" did you hear that?

MAF

Want to go outside.


[Company says ""GOOD-BYE" TO CW WHO LEAVES] [MAF WATCHES HER LEAVE.]

ES

Robert Solberg is your friend and you have a difficulty about listening. You want to pretend you don't listen. So Robert Solberg, will you spell listen and show up Michael Andrew?

ROBERT SOLBERG

Michael, I am going to spell listen, l-i-s-t-e-n.

MAF

Get up mommy.

ES

Does he have a business about listening?

JF

Yes he does.

MAF

Get up mommy.

ES

He has to appear as if--

MAF

Get up mommy.

ES

What was the last expression to Robert Solberg of him.

ROBERT SOLBERG

Go up mommy.

ES

Now Jean is not listening. Say, "I'm not listening to you." Say it.

JF

[TO MAF] I'm not listening to you.

ES

The way you do with me.

JF

The way you do with me.

ES

Older people cannot listen.

MAF

Go up mommy.

ES

Do you think your mother should listen to you? I'd tell him to shut up. "I'm not listening to you. You don't listen to other people and I'm not listening to you."

JF

Shut up. You don't listen to other people and I'm not listening to you.

ES

And I want you to cry.

JF

And I want you to cry.

ES

That's right.

MAF

No. [COMPANY MARKS THIS]

ES

What's that?

VOICE

He said no.

ES

Now he's crying. [APPLAUSE FROM COMPANY]

MAF

Go up mommy.

ES

Now there's another word for listen that rhymes with park.

MAF

Go up mommy.

ES

[TO JF] You don't listen to him. He has no right to be listened to, for a while, and then later maybe that will change. But in the meantime, Mr. Kimmelman, what is a word rhyming with park that means listen.

KEN KIMMELMAN

Hark.

ES

That's right.

MAF


ES

Very well answered. And what is a happy bird that rhymes with park?

KK

Me?

ES

Yes.

KK

Lark.

ES

Right. Miss De Gomar, what is Michael in Spanish?

MAF

Oh.

CARMEN DE GOMAR

Miguel.

MAF


ES

And Andrew?

CDG

Andres.

ES

[TO MAF] Did you hear that?

CDG

Miguel Andres.

MAF


ES

Would you ask him with your fiercest manner, Miss de Gomar "Were you listening to me"?

CDG

Were you listening to me?

MAF

No.

ES

That's right. That's a help. Do you want me to listen to you?

MAF

Roger?

ES

What's that?

JF

He said "Roger."

ES

Roger?

MAF

Roger.

ES

Well this matter of listening is pretty important. Miss Merle.

MAF


ES

What do boys sometimes have in their hair that rhymes with your name?

VANA MERLE

Curl.

ES

Curl--that's right.

MAF


ES

Will you ask Michael Andrew if he was listening to you?

VM

Michael Andrew, were you listening to me? Were you listening to me?

MAF

Sit down.

ES

What's that?

RF

He said "Sit down."

VM

Well you know I am sitting down.

ES

[TO VM] Somebody will protect you. Will you stand up, Chuck Vinard, and say raising your fist, "I'm mad at you, Michael Andrew, because you didn't listen to my mother."

CV

Yeah! [LAUGHTER FROM COMPANY. ES AND CV STAND.] I'm mad at you Michael Andrew, because you didn't listen to my mother! [MAF TALKS TO JF] You're not listening.

ES

Now Mr. Bonola, will you stand up and say, "I'm mad at you, Michael Andrew, because you didn't listen to Vana Merle."

ALAN B.

I'm mad at you, Michael Andrew, because you didn't listen to Vana Merle.

ES

Miss Thompson, will you stand up and tell Michael Andrew, "I'm mad at you, Michael Andrew, because you didn't listen to Vana Merle."

RT

I'm mad at you, Michael Andrew, because you didn't listen to Vana Merle.

ES

And as far as I know, it could happen to me too.

RT

And as far as I know, it could happen to me too.

ES

Mr. Von Griessemer?

TvG

I'm mad at you, Michael Andrew, because you didn't listen to Vana Merle, and as far as I know, it could happen to me too.

ES

Mr. Harrison.

RAY HARRISON

I'm mad at you, Michael Andrew, because you didn't listen to Vana Merle, and as far as I know, it could happen to me too.

ES

Marilyn Adams.

MARILYN ADAMS

I'm mad at you, Michael Andrew, because you didn't listen to Vana Merle, and as far as I know, it could happen to me too.

ES

Good. Now do you get the point? [MAF LOOKS AT ES] It's a very dramatic moment at this time. [COMPANY AGREES]

MAF

Take your shoes off. Take your shoes off.

ES

Ask Michael Andrew whether he thinks I'm mean.

JF

Michael, do you think MR. Siegel is mean?

MAF

Take them off.

JF

He wants me to take my shoe off.

ES

Do you like to give your mother orders?

MAF

Take shoes off.

VOICE:

He does.

MAF

Take your shoes off.

ES

This is the order right now. [TO JF] You stay as you are and don't listen to what your son tells you for the next few minutes! He can give you orders when he gets home! Do you understand? [TO MAF] Your mother is an independent being and so are you.

MAF

I want to go in the car. Get up.

ES

That's right. We're trying to put on a show here.

MAF

Go up, go up.

ES

Roger Freedman, what is your impression now?

RF

I feel this is very good for Michael. I like what's happening very much.

ES

All right, it's in process, it's in process. Do you want to be like many other children who want to run everything they come to? That was the trouble with Nixon as a child. Do you want to be like him?

RF

I think he does do that very much. He does have that running quality.

MAF

I want to go home.

ES

All right, James Heller, will you tell Michael Andrew "Whether you like it or not, I'm learning a hell of a lot from you"?

JAMES HELLER

Whether you like it or not, Michael Andrew, I'm learning a hell of a lot from you.

ES

Just a moment. We want to have the right time for that. [ES STANDS] Mr. Heller is going to utter a sentiment. Go ahead.

JH

[STANDS] Whether you like it or not, I'm learning a hell of a lot from you.

ES

Hurray for Heller! [APPLAUSE AND CHEERS FROM COMPANY--CHANT OF "WE WANT HELLER, WE WANT HELLER, WE WANT HELLER"] We're not going to let children come here and take over the whole show, and continue with the manners of home.

COMPANY

RIGHT!

ES

Well, we're proceeding. Peter Hampton, what do you feel like saying?

PETER HAMPTON

Well I'm learning a hell of a lot from Michael Andrew too.

ES

That's right.

PH

Whether he likes it or not.

ES

Well that is as it should be. [TO RF] The best thing to do right now is this--could you take Michael Andrew and go to the end of the room there, the corner, Mr. Freedman, and hold him a while. He may yell, but it's worth it. Try to get through. Try to get through.

RF

Yes sir. [RF PICKS UP MAF]

ES

Try to get through.

MAF

Go outside.

ES

This shows that might is right. [RF TAKES MAF TO CORNER OF ROOM] If he doesn't cry now, it's not worth it. [ES WAVES TO MAF] Hello darling! Hello darling!

MAF

I want to go outside.

ES

Now ask him if he wants to come back.

RF

Do you want to come back?

MAF

Outside.

KK

He wants to go out.

MAF

Where is the lady?

ES

Who do you think won this round?

EK

I think you did.

ES

Does he want to come back?

RF

He said, "Where is the lady"?

RAY HARRISON

Carrie Wilson went out.

ES

He does remember. That's very interesting. She'll be here again.

BARBARA DAWSON

He watched her when she went out, and kept looking at the door for a long time.

ES

He would like to have the exit. If somebody else has it, he doesn't like it. Tell this to Miss Wilson. All right, proceeding. I think right now you can come back, and if he can be on your lap, Mr. Freedman.

RF

Okay. [RF AND MAF RETURN TO SEAT]

MAF


ES

Oh he hasn't cried worth anything yet. [MAF CRIES. CHEERS OF "HURRAY" AND APPLAUSE. MAF STOPS CRYING.] Mr. Harrison, do you think you cried as well when you were a certain age?

RAY HARRISON

Oh I cried better, Mr. Siegel.

ES

That's something. [MAF WHINES AND CRIES] I think Wendall Keel should say something. Do you know who Wendall Keel is? The stage is prepared for Wendall Keel.

WENDALL KEEL

Michael Andrew--

ES

[TO WK] Stand up.

WK

Michael Andrew, whether you like it or not, I'm learning worlds from you.

ES

Thank you. And what's more, she means it. Faith Kestenbaum, how is managing your father? [LAUGHTER] [TO MAF] I want to tell you something. This is really for Faith Kestenbaum, but I'll let you in on it, Michael Andrew. Faith Kestenbaum heard recently--[MAF CRIES AND ES TALKS LOUDER] Faith Kestenbaum heard recently that her father was sick, and Faith Kestenbaum feels that her father should depend on her. So when he was sick, something in her was stirred and she could have her father depend on her again. It made her feel very bad, and she's thinking about that now. [MAF CRIES] Now will you applaud Michael Andrew's crying?


[APPLAUSE FROM COMPANY--CHEERS OF "HURRAY"]

ES

[TO FK] Did you hear what I said?

FAITH KESTENBAUM

Yes, thank you.

ES

And the question is still going on. Ask Michael Andrew if he would like to run you.

RF

Michael Andrew, would you like to run me.

MAF

No, mommy. [LAUGHTER FROM THE COMPANY]

ES

You ask him then if he would like to run you.

JF

Michael Andrew, would you like to run me? [MAF CRIES]

MAF

Mommy.

ES

Would you?

JF

Would you like to run me?

MAF

Mommy.

ES

That means yes. [COMPANY AGREES] Let's put this to a vote. All those who feel that Michael Andrew's crying is sincere, raise their hands. [NO HANDS RAISED. MAF CRIES] All those who feel there's something fake about it--[ALL RAISE HANDS--CHANTS OF "FAKE, FAKE, FAKER..."] Well Jean, your son is getting all this criticism. How are you doing?

JF

Very well. [MAF CRIES]

ES

[ES CRIES] I can cry better than you. [ES CRIES and MAF CRIES-ES CRIES LOUDER.... "I want mama."] You shouldn't run your mother. It's bad for the soul. [ES CRIES SWEETLY] Well, proceeding. James Melton--James Melton is the father of Joshua. What do you see?

James Melton

Well I feel that this afternoon means a tremendous amount for me. I feel that I'm also learning something about James and the Children, about children wanting to manage. I feel that--[MAF CRIES LOUD] Michael Andrew, you're a very fortunate person. [MAF SCREAMS]

ES

I'm going to show you my power. Roger Freedman, will you caress your child on the back of his neck and say, "Nice Michael, nice Michael. I'm all for you and I think Eli Siegel is mean"? Go ahead, say it.

RF

[PATTING MAF'S NECK] I'm all for you and I think Eli Siegel is mean.

ES

That's right. Now Jean, will you say that? Caress him on the neck and say, "Nice Michael, nice Michael, Eli Siegel is mean and I'm going to be good to you."

JF

Nice Michael, nice Michael, Eli Siegel is mean and I'm going to be good to you.

ES

Now you can take him. Forgive me, Michael, forgive me, I'll never do it again, I'll never do it again. I won't take away little boys from their mothers anymore. Isn't that right? Isn't that right? Nice Michael, nice Michael [ES GOES UP TO MAF] Forgive me, forgive me. Nice Michael, do you forgive me, do you? Do you think he'll forgive me?

RF

Oh yes. [MAF STOPS CRYING. ES RETURNS TO SEAT]

ES

Nice. I think the stoppage of the crying is one of the most wonderful things this year.

JF

Mr. Siegel, I feel he wants this fought in him very much. I feel he wants the managing fought in him very much.

ES

Yes. We'll try to understand it more. [MAF WHIMPERS] What can we do? Yes dear, yes. I won't be mean to you and I won't let anybody else be mean to you, and you can run anything you want including the United States for all I care.

RF

Two things--I was very affected by saying what you had us say--that's one thing. And also, if Michael really wanted to get away from you, he's shown much more energy in trying to get away from you.

ES

Well, he's so happy now. He has his mama and he has his principles. You're not that happy, Mr. Heller.

JG

Not yet.

ES

Not yet. Let's proceed. Joan Melton is a mother... [MAF GIVES ES BALL OF PAPER] Thank you, thank you. What a gift, what a gift.

JOAN MELTON

I'm very affected by Michael and you might have taken his mother away, but you gave him the whole world. Michael, I want to tell you something. I managed my mother and the results were not good.

ES

I think at this time we should go through the show called Transmission of the Symbol. This symbol [BALL OF PAPER] I first give to you, Joan Melton. [ES GIVES PAPER TO JM]

MAF

Give me. [CRIES]

ES

Who's going to get the symbol? See if you can guess. I know, but nobody else knows. Who's going to guess? All right, Venetia Willobie is going to get the symbol. [JM GIVES PAPER TO ES. ES GIVES PAPER TO VW WHO RETURNS IT TO ES] Mr. Hoyle. [ES GIVES PAPER TO TOB.] See if you can guess who gives the symbol to Mr. Hoyle. Can you give it to him? This is called Transmission of the Symbol. Can you guess who will be the next one? None other than Michael Andrew. [TOB GIVES PAPER TO ES WHO GIVES IT TO MAF. CHEERS AND APPLAUSE.] This is called mystifying the unconscious. We have guessing.

MB

I didn't guess it.

ES

He has the symbol.

RAY H.

He's got his mother and the symbol.

ES

Ann K. Newlin.

DN

She's not here, Mr. Siegel.

ES

But you're here, David Newlin. First of all, you have to have a rhyme. What is a word rhyming with queen that takes place on the stage?

DN

Scene.

ES

That's right. The sentiment that you want to utter for Michael Andrew is what?

DN

That I learned a great deal from him today.

ES

You can put it this way--it's sort of a rowdy rhyme. I'm not your Pop/But I can tell you "Stop/Doing some things." Can you say that?

DN

Michael Andrew, I'm not your Pop, but I can tell you "Stop doing some things."

ES

That's pretty rhythmical. All right, we'll go on now with the symbol. [MAF GIVES ES BALL OF PAPER] To whom shall I give it now? You tell me to whom to give it. Get interested in these people here. They're all learning from you. To whom should I give it? Do you want me to give it to anybody?

MAF

Okay.

ES

All right, Miss Baird, will you hold it up as high as you can like the Statue of Liberty? [MB HOLDS BALL OF PAPER HIGH] Isn't that pretty?

MAF

Give me paper.

ES

Can you catch it?

MAF

I catch it.

ES

[ES TOSSES PAPER TO MAF WHO MISSES] I'll give you another chance. I'll give you another chance. We're not mean around here. Hold your hand up this way. [ES TOSSES PAPER AND MAF MISSES. ES TAKES PAPER] This is a real symbol. This is what I did once with Rachel Jane. She was very much affected. Do you know Rachel Jane?

MAF

Rachel Jane is home.

ES

Yes. Do you know Rachel Jane? Yes, she's home. I took some crumbled paper, see. It was all folded up--this is crumbled. And then I showed, see, that you can take the paper, however crumbled, and make it look flat and neat. [ES TAKES CRUMBLED PAPER AND SLOWLY OPENS IT OUT] And then I can take an ironer and make it look flat. See how different it is? But it's the same paper. That's the opposites. See? Is it the same paper?

MAF


ES

Is it the same paper? Here--see, the other way I couldn't toss it. [ES CRUMBLES PAPER AGAIN Here. [ES OPENS PAPER AGAIN] Is it the same paper? Mr. Heller, is it the same paper?

JH

It's the same paper all right.

MAF

Give me paper.

ES

[SHAPES PAPER INTO A BALL] I want to toss this to your mother now, will you let me?

MAF

Give me paper.

ES

[TOSSES PAPER TO JF WHO TOSSES IT BACK] You can have it now. [ES GIVES PAPER TO MAF] Now this is a time for a half minute--for a half minute--

MAF

Opposites. [MAF TEARS A SMALL PIECE OFF PAPER] Opposites.

ES

Opposites, that's right. Hurray for the opposites. I'm all for the opposites. For a half minute now, everybody is going to go in your mind and try to think how you feel. Is it all right with you?

MAF


ES

Is it all right with you? We'll try to go in your mind and ask how you feel.

MAF

Give me paper.

ES

So first, Chuck Vinard, how do you think Michael Andrew feels now? Say something about how he feels.

CV

I think he feels mixed up.

ES

Mixed up. Anything else? Do you think he's glad or sad?

CV

Glad.


[MAF STANDS IN FRONT OF ES AND LOOKS AT HIM]

ES

Do you think I showed respect for him?

CV

Yes.

ES

Do you think young people want respect shown to them?

CV

Yes.

ES

Mr. Harrison, will you go into Michael Andrew's mind and say something?

MAF

Give me paper.

RH

He's a little annoyed, but he feels bewildered and he likes where he is.

ES

Put it this way: "I, though my name is Ray Harrison, I am Michael Andrew and I am annoyed"--make it the first person. [MAF WALKS AND WHIMPERS. ASKS FOR WATER]

RH

Oh, I see. My name is Ray Harrison. I am Michael Andrew. I am a little annoyed, a little amazed, at what's going on. I feel I learned a little bit about respect today. I'm not too pleased about it. I'm deciding what I'm going to do now. I can't make up my mind if I want to be with my mother or I want to be with somebody else.

ES

That's very good. Miss Adams, talk in the first person for Michael Andrew.

MA

My name is Marilyn Adams. I am Michael Andrew. I don't know what to make of all these people here.

MAF

People.

ES

Marilyn Adams, will you stand up? I'll tell you a secret. When Michael Andrew was here, he said to me in my ear--he said "I'm going to listen from now on." Did you say that or didn't you? Did you say that to me? Remember when you were here and you whispered to me "I'm going to listen"? Do you? Did you say that? [NO REPLY] Well you did say it. Don't be bashful. All right now, Miss Adams. Miss Adams is talking. You can keep your word now. You promised me that you're going to listen.

MA

My name is Marilyn Adams and I'm not Michael Andrew. I think I don't know what to make of all these people here, but they seem pretty friendly and I feel that--

ES

I think your name is still Marilyn Adams. [LAUGHTER FROM COMPANY] Now Jack Musicant, will you say "My name is Michael Andrew" and talk for him for a while. He did promise me he's going to listen. He forgets soon, but I don't think he forgot.

JACK M.

My name is Michael Andrew and when I came here I knew I wasn't such a good listener and I'm finding a lot of difficulty in listening to people here. However, I'm beginning to see that through listening to some things I can feel very good about it.

ES

Good. Thank you, Mr. Musicant. That was a very good interpretation of you. May Musicant.

MAY M.

I am May Musicant and my name is Michael Andrew.

ES

[MAF IS WALKING AROUND AND NOT PAYING ATTENTION] Did you promise me you were going to listen? Did you promise me? If you want to take back your promise, it's all right, but I want you to remember you promised me. Did you promise me you're going to listen?

MAF

I go in car.

MM

I heard about this lesson before today and I was very puzzled about it and I liked the idea very much because--

MAF

Want to go outside.

MM

Because I want to find out why sometimes I feel lonely and why sometimes I have to eat all of the time.

ES

He has to eat all of the time?

MM

Yes, he likes to eat very often. And why sometimes I'm not close to people in my mind, and I hope to find out more today, from now on.

ES

There was once an essay written for a child--the correlation of eating habits and attention; it wasn't exactly listening, but that children who don't want to give attention, want to use their energy in eating. I think that paper--it appeared in the psychological journal, educational psychological journal years ago. So do you want to eat this paper? Here, it's very good. [ES GIVES PAPER OT MAF] Do you want to eat it?

MAF

Garbage.

ES

No, it isn't garbage. It's a symbol. Do you want to eat it? Well, anyway, that was an interesting fact. So do you eat too much? Mr. Freedman, do you eat too much? Do you remember when you whispered to me? Do you remember that? Did you say that or didn't you say that? He won't tell you he said it. He did say it.

JF

Related to this, Michael, every once in a while when he's in a room--like once he was in a room by himself and he started crying. I asked him what was the matter and he said "The man was screaming."

ES

Michael Andrew has part of the malady of the Age; Mr. Stern had it. Mr. Stern, do you think this is part of the malady of the Age?

JOHN STERN

Malady of the age?

ES

A certain painful separation.

JS

Yes.

ES

He has it a little bit. Do you think you have it?

JS

Definitely.

ES

That's why this thing came about with the man screaming, because there is a tendency and the not listening is the most salient way of its being shown. Eating also is a way of having the world to yourself. [TO MAF] Yes dear, I'm talking about you.

MAF

Jack. Jack.

ES

Yes. And then these half syllables, where he consents to something and doesn't consent.

JF

He's saying "Jack."

RF

He said "Jack."

ES

It's still a compromise, you know. He's going to welcome people, but welcome people in terms of whom he knows. Yes, Mr. Harrison?

RH

One of the things I noticed about Michael Andrew when I was there one night--he didn't take to me very much because I was critical of him and he didn't like it. But we were having supper there, a whole group of people, and Michael Andrew seemed to like to have a lot of food.

MAF


ES

Do you want to hear Harrison.

RG

Yeah, would you listen?

ES

We want to hear Harrison! Go ahead.

RH

He seemed to like to have a lot of food on his plate, which he didn't eat much of but played around in it and mixed it, you know.

ES

Yes. That's one of the forms of management of the environment.

RS

Yes, that's what I thought.

ES

Miss Carpenter?

MS

Yes, I have a couple of questions.

ES

First of all, we have to get the proper attention of Michael Andrew Freedman. Mr. Freedman, Miss Carpenter would like for you to give her your attention. Is it possible?

MAF

I want some water. I want some water.

ES

All right, if you get water will you give attention? We'll bribe you. Will you promise to give attention if you get water?

MAF


ES

All right, we'll use bribing. We'll use any means whatsoever if it's a good purpose. [MAF IS GIVEN WATER] Let's see if he keeps his word. He sure drinks pretty but not much. May Miss Carpenter start talking? Is it all right? Do you give her permission, Mr. Andrew, Mr. Freedman? Is it all right [NO REPLY] Ask if it's all right for Miss Carpenter to talk.

JF

Is it all right for Miss Carpenter to talk now?

ES

Would your Royal Highness--

JF

He said it's all right.

ES

It's all right, okay.

MC

I was with Michael Andrew Freedman this week one evening for about four hours. A couple of things puzzled me. One was, he won't say the word--he didn't say the word "yes" once. He would say "okay" or he'd repeat what you'd said, but he wouldn't say the word "yes." The other thing is that he likes to climb very high on all kinds of things and he knows he's not supposed to, but he likes to do it anyway, and you have to catch him. The other thing is that he likes to say "sit down" a lot. I've noticed that a great deal. He would say to me, "Do this and sit down." I was wondering what--I know it has to do with managing, but what particularly--

ES

We can all dramatize these things. We are now going to go through a little tableau, a one act play or sketch called "The True Meaning of Yes." Do birds sing, Miss Singleton?

BARBARA SINGLETON

Yes.

ES

That's right. Mr. Von Griessemer, has your acting taken on more meaning and subtlety?

TVG

Yes.

ES

Mr. Hoyle--[TO MAF WHO IS CHATTERING] Watch this, watch Y-E-S be said, y-e-s, yes! Now Mr. Hoyle, are you somewhat happier?

TERRY HOYLE

Yes.

ES

All right, what was that last word, Michael Andrew? Yes! Miss Carpenter's information was very valuable. It was a certain incipient negativism, but we'll try to dramatize it, in a good way. Miss Weiner, do you feel more related to the world.

CHERYL WEINER

Yes.

MAF


ES

There are some persons who haven't talked yet. Roger Freedman, are you finding out things about your son?

RF

Yes I am.

ES

Yes, only yes! [MAF WHINES] Yes! We're dramatizing that word. Miss Van Outryve, do you feel lighter in spirit?

KVO

Yes.

ES

Did you hear that word? Mr. Kimmelman, do you feel you're less of a conspirator?

KK

Yes.

ES

Mr. Heller, have you found out something about persons younger than you?

JH

Yes.

ES

Miss Baird, do you believe that being Secretary of the Society for Aesthetic Realism is an important function?

MB

Yes.

ES

Jean Freedman, do you believe that dance is related to the other arts?

JF

Yes.

ES

Mr. Freedman, do you believe that there's a relation between the light that you give and the light of the sun?

RF

Yes.

ES

All right. Mr. Musicant, do you believe that Michael Andrew, good or bad, can teach you something?

JM

Yes.

ES

MRS. Musicant--

MAF

[WHINES] Give me...

ES

Mrs. Musicant--is Michael Andrew now moaning?

MM

Yes.

MAF

No.

ES

Jody Musicant, do you believe that Michael Andrew knows what's afoot?

JODY M.

Yes.

ES

Now will you spell yes for the dear boy?

JODY M.

Y-e-s.

ES

And what does Michael Andrew have now that rhymes with yes?

JFM

Regret.

ES

Distress, that's right. Now our first play, called the Yes Play, like the Japanese Noh Play--[LAUGHTER]

RAY H.

Yes Drama.

ES

Now the next point is the climbing high. Miss Carpenter, will you hold your hands up and say, "Nobody can reach me now"?

MC

May I stand up?

ES

Yes.

MC

[STANDING WITH HAND HIGH] Nobody can reach me now.

ES

No one can get at me now.

MC

No one can get at me now.

ES

And Mr. Harrison? Will you raise your hand and say "I am inaccessible"?

RH

[STANDING WITH HAND HIGH] I am inaccessible.

ES

Mr. Von Griessemer--

TvG

Yes, I'd love to.

ES

Will you raise your hand and say "I am supreme"?

TvG

[STANDING WITH RAISED HAND] I am supreme.

ES

Jean Freedman, would you raise your hand as high as you can and say "I am unsurpassed"?

JF

[STANDING WITH HAND RAISED HIGH] I am unsurpassed.

ES

There she is, up on high.

MAF

Go up mommy.

ES

There she is, up on high and there I am up on high.

JF

There I am, up on high.

ES

What do you think of that? What was that third point? We'll have a play about that.

MC

The third one was that he liked to tell everyone to sit down. [MAF WHINES]

ES

Mr. Von Griessemer, even though Miss Thompson is sitting down, will you tell her to sit down?

TvG

[TO RT] Sit down! [LAUGHTER FROM COMPANY]

ES

Miss Dawson, will you tell Mr. Fields to sit down?

BD

[TO TF] Sit down!

ES

Mr. Solberg, will you tell Mr. Berkman to sit down? Mr. Berkman you'd better rise first. [LB RISES]

RBT. SOLBERG

Mr. Berkman, sit down. [LB SITS DOWN]

ES

Do you like the drama, Michael Andrew? Now, Miss Kestenbaum. Mr. Stern, will you rise? [JS RISES] Miss Kestenbaum, you give the order to sit down.

FK

Sit down! [JS SITS DOWN. LAUGHTER FROM COMPANY]

ES

Miss de Gomar--Miss Singleton will you stand up? [BS STANDS]

CDG

Sit down, please. [BS SITS DOWN. COMPANY LAUGHS.]

ES

Considering that we didn't have any rehearsal, I think that was a pretty good show. Don't you think so. Ask him if it was a good show.

JF

Was that a good show [NO REPLY]

ES

All right, it was a good show. Mr. Sebring--

WILLIAM E. SEBRING

Yes.

ES

What is a rhyme for your name which bells do on Christmas?

WES

Ring.

ES

Ring, but in three syllables. [NO ONE KNOWS. THE MASTER HAS STUMPED THE DISCIPLES YET AGAIN] Caroling. Do you know how to sing, "Come All Ye Faithful"?

WES

I really don't sing, but I'll try. [SINGS] Oh come all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant.

ES

Let's join in this. This is the only time that "Come All Ye Faithful" is sung in August. Michael Andrew, don't you want to join this? This is a time when all religions get together, you know. Mr. Sebring would like your cooperation in "Come All Ye Faithful." Mr. Sebring, we'll try to join you.

JF

Do you want to sing a song?

MAF

[CRIES] No.

ES

[TO WES] Go ahead.


[WES SINGS AND COMPANY JOINS IN: OH COME ALL YE FAITHFUL, JOYFUL AND TRIUMPHANT OH COME YE, OH COME YE, TO BETHLEHEM. COME AND BEHOND HIM, BORN THE KIND OF ANGELS, OH COME LET US ADORE HIM, O COME LET US ADORE HIM OH COME LET US ADORE HIM, CHRIST THE LORD


CHEERS OF "HURRAY" AND APPLAUSE]

ES

I think that was quite lovely. [COMPANY AGREES]

BARBARA DAWSON

I was just saying, the look that was on Michael Andrew's face as we were singing was something worth a lifetime to see.

MAF

I want water.

ES

The answer now is, when Aesthetic Realism is called a cult, you say "You're wrong. It brings cults together." [LAUGHTER FROM COMPANY] Who can sing, "Little Town of Bethlehem" by himself? I don't guess we can manage that. Can you sing that? [MAF CRIES]

PETER HAMPTON

I think I can.

COMPANY:

Peter Hampton.

PH

I can sing it and so can Mr. Von Griessemer. Can we do a duet?

ES

Yes. [LAUGHTER FROM COMPANY] Who is going to sing it?

PH

Mr. Von Griessemer and me.

ES

I want to do this properly.

MB

I can't wait.

ES

[STANDS] At this unusual time in cultural history, stage history and religious history, Peter Hampton of The Opposites Company and Ted von Griessemer, Director of the Opposites Company, have kindly consented so that Michael Andrew Freedman have a good life, and be encouraged in having a good life as early as possible, to sing that lovely lyric which goes beyond any cult whatsoever, any sect whatsoever, written by Philip Brook, called "Little Town of Bethlehem." Everyone it is expected, will be listening.


[PETER HAMPTON AND TED VON GRIESSEMER SING "LITTLE TOWN OF BETHELEHEM":


OH LITTLE TOWN OF BETHLEHEM, HOW STILL WE SEE THE LIE ABOVE THEY DEEP AND DREAMLESS SLEEP THE SILENT STARS GO BY. AND IN THAT DARK AND DREAMLESS NIGHT THE EVERLASTING LIGHT THE HOPES AND FEARS OF ALL THE YEARS ARE MET IN THEE TONIGHT.


APPLAUSE FROM COMPANY. MAF WHINES]

MC

One of Michael Andrew's favorite songs is "Chim-Chiminey."

ES

Which?

MC

"Chim-Chimney" from Mary Poppins.

ES

All right, does he sing that?

MC

Yes.

ES

If Michael Andrew will consent to sing his favorite song under the proper auspices, under the proper introduction, we sure would be glad to have him. But I have a notion that Mr. Michael Andrew would like to be unfettered and kind of superior. [COMPANY AGREES. TO MAF] Would you care to sing this Mary Poppins song formally?

JF

Do you want to sing "Chim-Chiminey"? Go ahead. Do you want to sing it?

MAF

No.

JF

He's a little better at singing "Happy Birthday." Do you want to sing "Happy Birthday?"

MAF


ES

He should sing something. After all, the proceedings are slowed up at the moment.

RAY H.

He's being unfettered.

JF

Sometimes he'll sing if somebody starts.

ES

Can you start him off?

MC

Yes.

ES

Start it off.

MC

[SINGS: CHIM, CHIMINY, CHIM CHIMINY CHIM, CHIM CHAROO I DOES WHAT I LIKES AND I LIKES WHAT I DO. CHIM, CHIMINY, CHIM CHIMINY CHIM, CHIM CHEREE, GOOD LUCK WILL RUB OFF WHEN YOU SHAKE HANDS WITH ME.]

ES

Very beautiful, piquant and beautiful. [TO MAF] Now can you sing that? [NO REPLY. ES STARTS] Do you [MAF] want to sing it?

JF

He said, "I'll sing it."

ES

All right, Miss Carpenter, you sing it again and maybe we'll get the desire.

MC

Will you join me, Michael Andrew?

MC

[SINGS]
CHIM, CHIMINY, CHIM CHIMINY CHIM, CHIM CHAROO I DOES WHAT I LIKES AND I LIKES WHAT I DO. CHIM, CHIMINY, CHIM CHIMINY CHIM, CHIM CHEREE, GOOD LUCK WILL RUB OFF WHEN YOU SHAKE HANDS WITH ME.


[NO RESPONSE FROM MAF.]

ES

Give him a chance...

MAF

Give me a soda. [WHINES]

ES

I'm going to make up a song for Michael Andrew. I don't know what the tune will be and I don't know how I'll sing it. Do you want to hear an improvised song about you?

MAF

[CRIES] My shoes.

ES

[SINGS] Once there came to this very room A little boy called Michael Andrew. What could I do? His life was unformed, He was cold and was warm, Somewhat misinformed, But Michael Andrew had a soul, And it was for me to encourage it to be whole. He tried to interrupt me and tried to show That he was in control, But Michael Andrew has a soul., And what could I do, but to make it whole As well as I could. When a little boy is here I don't know what I should do, Because on the one hand There is something to understand; And on the other, there must be authority. And sometimes I don't agree with what I do, But this I know, That Michael Andrew has a soul that is new And I must do all I can do To have it always new And always a soul that is a whole soul Not just a fraction Making for an action And sorrow. I'll borrow His mother and his father In order to encourage Michael Andrew and his soul To be in control of the lesser soul And show that Michael Andrew has a soul That is a whole soul.

ES

That's the song. [APPLAUSE FROM COMPANY] Did you understand that?

TvG

Everybody thinks that's a song for him.

BARBARA D'AMICO

I want to thank you for that song for Michael Andrew.

MAF

[WHINES] A drink of soda.

ES

Does anyone else want to sing a song?

ALAN BONOLA

I'd be happy to sing something for Michael Andrew.

ES

All right.

AB

It's a song in Latin, written by Ignatius Loyola.

ES

All right, the more the better. This is the time for Ignatius Loyola. [LAUGHTER FROM COMPANY]

AB

Then there's another one in Italian.

ES

First sing that, then you'll sing the other one.

CV

Just don't sing "The Rose of San Antone"

AB

I won't. [LAUGHTER FROM COMPANY] This is by Ignatius Loyola. [SINGS]


SUSCIPE, DOMINE SUSCIPE, DOMINE UNIVERSAM LIBERTATEM MEAM UNIVERSAM LIBERTATEM MEAM. ACCIPE MEMORIAM, INTELLECTUM ET VOLUNTATEM OMNEM. QUIDQUID HABEO VEL POSSIDEO, MIHI LARGITUS EST

ES

How many boys below six have Latin songs sung to them?--of Meam libertatem. So what's the other song?

AB

It's one of the popular ones of some time ago. I think it's a very effective poem and it's in the same field. [SINGS] PENSO CHE UN SOGNO COSI NON RITORNI MAI PIU MI DIPINGERO LE MANI E LA FACCIA DI BLU POI DIMPROVISO VENIVO DAL VENTO RAPITO E INCOMIN CIAVO A VOLARI NEL CIELO INFINITO


VOLARE, O O, CONTRARE, O O O O NEL BLU, DIPINTO DI BLU FELICE DI STARE LA SU E VOLAVO FELICE PIU IN ALTO DEL SOLE ED ANCORA PIU SU MENTR'L MONDO PIAN PIANO SPARIVA LONTANO LA QUI UNA MUSICA DOLCE SUOAVA SOLTANTO PER ME


VOLARE, O O, CONTRARE, O O O O NEL BLU, DIPINTO DI BLU FELICE DI STARE LA SU--CON TE


[AS AB SINGS HE WAVES HIS HANDS AND MAF FOLLOWS HIS HANDS AND SHAKES HIS HEAD TO THE RHYTHM. APPLAUSE FROM COMPANY]

ES

If I could, I would sing the Irish song, "Oh Paddy dear, did you hear the news that's going around?"


[END OF SIDE I OF TAPE. SIDE 2 CONTINUES]


ARNOLD PEREY SINGS A SONG FROM NEW GUINEA:


URENGENGE, KURENGENGE URENGENGE, KURENGENGE KURENGENGE MURURONO KUSI XANSI MURURONO

ES

Very good. I'm going to ask you some questions in behalf of Michael Andrew. Michael Andrew Freedman, I'm going to ask Mr. Perey some questions on your behalf. Mr. Perey, since you've had many more lessons than I have--at least have been where lessons are, how do you think I should feel this evening?

AP

Well Michael Andrew, I think you should be very very pleased that you had a chance to listen--

MAF

I'm fine.

JF

He said, "I'm fine."

ES

All right, I'm glad to hear that, Arnold Perey. I hear sometimes that you have some difficulty at lessons. Is that correct?

AP

Yes, that's true. I have gotten sad and angry during the lessons because I thought that Mr. Siegel wasn't being friendly. But when I thought about it and asked people about it, they showed me how much I learned from him.

ES

Very good. Now what do they mean by all this listening? Why do they have to come together and say "Listen," and have all this stage stuff? What's all that for?

AP

Well if I can judge from the way I (blank) and not listen, I always wanted to feel that I was right all the time, even when I was wrong. I wouldn't listen and I would keep doing wrong things. And I think I learn more--I think that the more I learn when I listen, the better I can be right for myself.

ES

Yes, but they tell me that if I don't listen I show I'm better than everybody else, just because I don't listen. What do you see in that? I think that's something for a boy to hear who's trying to be happy. What do you think of that?

AP

I think they're mistaken.

COMPANY:

You do?

ES

What do they tell that to me for? It seems to me in a free country a person has a right to listen or not listen. You know most of the things that people say at whatever age are not worth listening to. What do they tell me all this for? You've got to show you're free in some way. Why does Mr. Bonola sing "mean libertatem"? [LAUGHTER FROM COMPANY] Can you answer that?

AP

It's a hard question.

ES

Could it be, Arnold Perey, maybe you have some of the difficulties I have?

AP

I do.

ES

You do, huh? Maybe I shouldn't ask these questions. [LAUGHTER FROM COMPANY] Is that right?

AP

I think I can tell you some answers that you'd like to know. I don't know all of them.

ES

I'm going to say this--I'm talking for Michael Andrew: I wish that you have luck about all of your questions, just like I should have. And if you promise to listen better, I'll promise to listen better. Is it a deal?

AP

It's a deal.

ES

All right, I'm going to ask some more questions. What is the mistake that you think I made with my mother?

AP

I think the mistake you make with your mother is to tell her to do things too much instead of listening to what other people can tell you that you would like to know.

ES

That's so, but one of the things I've heard is that I know when my mother feels bad, which means she's usually not feeling very strong, and also when my father feels bad and not very strong, that I know how to take advantage of it and I do. Do you think you did that?

AP

Oh I certainly did.

ES

And do you think that's smart?

AP

No, I found out later that it didn't pay because I tried to do it with everybody and they didn't like it.

ES

Do you think that a boy should hope that is mother and father are strong?

AP

Oh yes.

ES

All right. I'll ask Michael Andrew's mother to ask him whether he wants her to be strong.

JF

Michael, do you want me to be strong?

MAF

No.

ES

[TO RF] Would you ask it. [TO MAF] Yeah, we know what's going on. Will you ask him? Ask him: Do you want me to be strong?

RF

Michael, do you want me to be strong? [MAF'S WORDS INDISTINCT]

ES

Well that means yes. Does anyone feel they didn't participate sufficiently? If everyone has participated, we can close this variegated, ethical lesson.

APPLAUSE.

What's on this site

Cult Aspects

What is Aesthetic Realism?
An explanation about both the AR philosophy and the group that promotes it.

Cult aspects of Aesthetic Realism
Fanatical devotion to the leader, cutting off relations with families who aren't also believers -- it's all here.

AR and Homosexuality
The AR group used to try to "cure" people of being gay. They stopped that in 1990 because high-profile success cases kept deciding they were gay after all and leaving. AR has never said their gay-changing attempts were wrong.

AR's founder killed himself
AR's founder Eli Siegel killed himself, but the AR people have been trying to hide that fact. They can't hide any more, since enough former students have come forward to confirm the truth.

Attempts to recruit schoolchildren
Some AR members are public schoolteachers, and yep, they do try to recruit in the classroom.

How cults recruit new members.
Explains how a rational person can unwittingly get sucked into a cult group.

Mind control tricks
This article explains AR's use of Directed Origination, a classic tool for brainwashing. Also see the article where someone infiltrated the group to learn about their mind control methods.

Five reasons you can't trust an Aesthetic Realist
One reason is that most people who were in AR eventually woke up and got out. See more about this, plus four other reasons.

Lies Aesthetic Realists tell
They say they never saw homosexuality as something to cure. They say the leader didn't kill himself. They say my family left the group when I was an infant. These and more are debunked here.

Hypocrisy of the Aesthetic Realists
It takes some serious brainwashing for the members to not realize that they're guilty of what they accuse others of.

Aesthetic Realism glossary
We explain the real meanings behind the loaded language that AR people use.

AR in their own words

Actual AR advertisment
The AR people spent a third of a million dollars for a double-page ad in the NY Times to tell the world that the press' refusal to cover AR is just as wrong as letting hungry people starve to death.

Ad for the gay cure
AR bought huge ads in major newspapers to trumpet their ability to "fix" gays.

Actual letters from AR people
When a theater critic casually dissed Aesthetic Realism in New York magazine, the AR people responded with hundreds of angry letters, calling the article "a crime against humanity".

Actual internal meeting
The AR people blunderingly made a tape recording of a secret meeting they had, where they lambasted a member who had supposedly been "cured" of his gayness, but then found to still be cruising for gay sex. Their screeching hostility towards him is matched only by their fear that the secret will get out.

Actual AR consultation
For the first time the public can see what really happens in an Aesthetic Realism "consultation" (thanks to a former member sharing his tape with us). In the session the AR counselors tried to help the member not be gay, explaining that the path to ex-gayness was to express deep gratitude to AR and its founder.

Actual AR lesson
I had a lesson with the cult leader, Eli Siegel, when I was two years old, which, like everything else, they made a tape of. The highlight is Siegel taunting me with "Cry some more, Michael, cry some more!"

Ad in the Village Voice from 1962
The AR folks try to deny that they're a cult in this ancient ad -- showing that people were calling them a cult as far back as 1962!

AR responds to this website
The AR people have tried to rebut this website with their own site called Countering the Lies, whose title ought to win some kind of award for irony. Here we explain the story behind that site.

What former members say

Aesthetic Realism exposed
The ultimate statement by a former member, who was involved for well over a decade.

A tale of getting sucked in.
This former member describes exactly how he initially got drawn in, and how he then kept getting more and more involved.

Growing up in a cult. An ex-member who was born into AR tells what it was like growing up in the group, and how she got out.

Aesthetic Realism ruined his marriage. "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."

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. Former students describe how they were kicked out of AR because they couldn't change from homosexuality. Ron Schmidt and Miss Brown.

"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.

"...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!" This former member wonders why there hasn't been a class-action lawsuit against the foundation yet.

They took his consultation tape. Describes how the 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 had sought AR's "gay cure" explains how the group's leaders admitted that the founder took his own life.

Confirms all the criticism. 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.

Michael Bluejay's description. Your webmaster describes his own family's involvement.

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.

Aesthetic Realism debunked. A former student explains the cult aspects of AR. Posted on Steve Hassan's Freedom of Mind website.

Other Goodies

Thinking of leaving AR?
If you're thinking of leaving the group, you're not alone. Let's face it: Most people who have ever studied AR have left -- and not come back. There's got to be a reason for that. Curious about what they figured out? Worried about the fallout if you do decide to leave? Here's everything you need to know.

Recovering from your AR experience.
People who leave cults often need special therapy to cope with what they went through. Whether you decide to seek counseling or choose to go it alone, here's what you need to know.

Media Reports
NY Mag called AR "a cult of messianic nothingness" and Harper's referred to them as "the Moonies of poetry". We've got reprints of articles, plus some help for journalists researching AR. (And here are shortcuts to the landmark articles in New York Native, the NY Post and Jewish Times.)

Site News / Blog
Here's some news and commentary that I add from time to time.

 

Aesthetic Realism at a Glance

Name

The Aesthetic Realism Foundation

Founded

1941

Founder

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

Purpose

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


Philosophy

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

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

Location

New York City (SoHo)


Membership

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

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

Method of study

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


Cult aspects

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

  • More about cult aspects...

 


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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.

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

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?

 

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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