In an Aesthetic
Realism class I attended, Eli Siegel asked me questions about this time
that enabled my disappointment to become useful self-questioning and knowledge.
"Do you think," he asked "your chief hurt in life is because you have two
motives: justice and glorification?" "Yes," I replied. And
he explained, "Justice should always win over glorification because glorification
is a garbage can. To have the purpose of being interested in someone
to glorify [oneself] is hideous. Should [one] see a person to see
the whole world better or to glorify [one]self?" In another class
Mr. Siegel 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 "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!"
and Beautiful Dissatisfaction in a Famous Woman in Literature
I comment now on aspects of the character,
Beatrix, from the historical 1852 novel, Henry Esmond by the important
English author William Makepeace Thackeray. Beatrix illustrates vividly,
dissatisfaction; so ordinary in its way, but which weakens and spoils a
person's life. Yet Beatrix is also a critic of herself and as the
novel proceeds, she shows dissatisfaction that is beautiful, strengthening,
courageously in behalf of justice. I will quote from a 1950
lecture Mr. Siegel gave titled Aesthetic Realism and Thackeray's Henry
Esmond. In it, he shows how Thackeray deals honestly with the
conflicts of people--children and parents, men and women, husbands and
wives--between for and against, pretending and sincerity, selfishness and
wanting to be kind.
It is the early 18th
century at the time of Queen Anne. Henry Esmond is being brought
up in the noble family of Castlewood, consisting of the Viscount of Castlewood,
who, early on is killed in a duel, his wife, Lady Castlewood, and their
two children, Frank and Beatrix. It is thought that Henry Esmond
was born illegitimately, but he learns in time, that he is the rightful
heir to the Castlewood estate, though he doesn't tell anyone. Esmond
is affected very much by both Lady Castlewood and Beatrix, her daughter,
who, in the lecture, Mr. Siegel describes as "most radiantly beautiful,
and smart as a whip, and selfish as a lizard, and also as warm as the sun,
and as cold as an ice floe. She is somebody."
There is this description by Thackeray
of Beatrix as a child, illustrating the dissatisfaction I know from intimate
experience goes on in a family:
"Beatrix, from the earliest time, was jealous
of every caress which was given to her little brother Frank. She
would fling away even from the maternal arms, if she saw Frank had been
there before her;...She would turn...red with rage...; would sit apart,
and not speak for a whole night, if she thought the boy had a better fruit
or a larger cake than hers;"
In Aesthetic Realism and Dissatisfaction,
Mr. Siegel explains "Where people insist on being dissatisfied, you can
be sure that they have a conquering purpose." This conquering purpose
of wanting one's way at all costs is developing in Beatrix and shows in
how she plays one parent off against another. "One of the things
in Thackeray's mind," Mr. Siegel pointed out, "was the being able to see
how people do go through a deep and ugly politics in family life."
Thackeray describes this in sentences that have "a style," Mr. Siegel said
that "Thackeray is noted for...that winds and leaps gently, and then grows
flat, and then rises again." Thackeray writes:
"She was the darling and torment of father
and mother. She intrigued with each secretly; and bestowed her fondness
and withdrew it, plied them with tears, smiles, kisses, cajolements;--when
the mother was angry...flew to the father, and sheltering behind him, pursued
her victim; when both were displeased,...watched until she could win back
her parents' good graces, either by surprising them into laughter and good-humour,
or appeasing them by submission and artful humility...."
In my first Aesthetic Realism consultation, I
began to understand the reasoning behind certain political choices I had
made. I was asked: "What do you think you did with your impression
of your parents? Do you think you came to any decisions as to how
to be?" I answered "Well, I knew if my mother criticized me, my father
would side with me....It gave me power."
Consultants: Did you
feel your father was weak about you?
This was the beginning of my seeing how I had
used people to glorify myself, including seeing them as easily deceived,
not worthy of respect. And it was the beginning too of feeling my
dissatisfaction with myself could be beautiful through honest self-criticism.
Lynette Abel: Yes, I did.
Consultants: Did you feel all
men would be?
LA: Yes, I did feel that.
here for conclusion