Lynette Abel  / Aesthetic Realism & Life


William Morris

Articles about current issues explained by Aesthetic Realism
Aesthetic Realism Seminars
Reports of Aesthetic Realism classes taught by Eli Siegel
The aesthetic relation of art and life, described by Aesthetic Realism
Links about Aesthetic Realism and related resources

Lynette Abel


 Part 2
Disappointment in Love

As a teenager, I thought my greatest pleasure would come from the admiration and love of a man.  Then, all my disappointments, the complaints I had about other people, and my own self-doubt would disappear!

      At 19, I met Mark while I was working part-time in the record dept. at Sears & Roebuck; he was in the shipping dept., and told me he had been admiring me for weeks. We began to date.  Mark was good-looking and very flattering, telling me soon that I meant more to him than any other woman he'd known.  I saw myself as very special, and that I was indispensable to him.  And I remember feeling a rush of power when he worriedly asked me, after I'd taken the bus home from work, if I'd looked at any other man out the window.  I felt glorious for a while, but I also had growing misgivings.  Why was I at one moment on top of the world, and at the next empty as hell?  All this praise, I felt dimly, was not really about me, and I secretly felt  Mark was foolish and easily deceived.  But instead of trying to be honest about my feelings, I acted pleased and kidded him along.  In his lecture, Mr. Siegel explained:

Any person who expects to get somebody or something and really not be disappointed in the having of it—that is, have it truly—without wanting to know it and the world from which it comes, will not succeed….We cannot play politics with our desires.  On the one hand, we want people to like us, and on the other hand we are not after the true cause of their liking us: we really are asking for disappointment; we really never feel we deserve to be liked.
This is what I felt.  After 2-1/2 years, I ended our relationship.  I felt very mean, and hated myself, and for years I worried that I didn't have the ability to really love anyone.

     Then by great good fortune, I learned about Aesthetic Realism and began to study it.  in an early class I attended, Mr. Siegel asked me questions that opened my eyes and enabled my disappointment to become useful self-questioning and education.  "Do you think," he asked, "your chief hurt in life is because you have two motives: justice and glorification?"  "Yes," I answered.  And he explained, "justice should always win over glorification....To have the purpose of being interested in someone to glorify [oneself] is hideous.  Should [one] see a person to glorify [one]self or to see the whole world better?"  In another class he said: "the greatest repression is our desire to be just to what is not ourselves, and he asked: "Do you know how great the instinct to be just is in you?" I answered vaguely,  "It's larger than I know." "You make it boring," he said.  "Is this true or not—your greatest desire is to be just to something outside yourself.  As soon as you know a person you should have a tremendous desire to be just to that person!"

     This was new, and I felt relieved and hopeful, solidly hopeful.  The motive I'd had with men looked small, and I saw there was something far more glorious that I wanted, which Mr Siegel had articulated: to "have a tremendous desire to be just to [a] person."  This is the one purpose that can never disappoint one.

     Mr. Siegel once said, “To love anything or anybody, you have to see this as a beginning of love for all things.”  today I love and respect a man, my husband Michael Palmer, and I'm happy to say I do see this "as a beginning of love for all things."

A Woman in an American Novel Comments on Our Subject

A character who shows a woman's hope to be disappointed, is Aunt Polly in the classic book Pollyanna, written in 1913 by Eleanor H. Porter.  Polly is a sour woman, who doesn't like things and doesn't want to--she wants to be disappointed.  Early in the book, she is described "as a stern, severe-faced woman who frowned if a knife clattered to the floor, or if a door banged—but who never thought to smile even when knives and doors were still."  In other words, when things go well, she's disappointed. Some twenty years previously, she had been courted by Dr. Thomas Chilton, who had proposed marriage.  Then there was a quarrel and relations were severed, and she's been miserable ever since, "feedin' on wormwood an' thistles…" Porter writes, "she's that bitter an' prickly ter deal with."

Click here for Part 3

  2004 Lynette Abel