By Nancy Huntting
Originally presented at a public seminar at the Aesthetic Realism Foundation. Here are two excerpts, from the beginning and part 2, and a link to the entire paper:
As a woman who’s made many mistakes about love, I want women everywhere to learn from Aesthetic Realism as I have what those mistakes are and how, at last, not to make them.
The biggest mistake I made—and the most popular for centuries, I learned—is that love is seen as a haven from a world we don’t like, where we will be glorified. This leads to other popular mistakes. . . .
Mistake #1: Love Is Where We Are Glorified
In his great lecture “Aesthetic Realism and Love,” serialized in the journal The Right of Aesthetic Realism to Be Known, Eli Siegel explained:
Our biggest desire is to feel that the big world in which we are is something that makes us grow, something that makes us what we want to be. But we’d also like to think that the world is bad, disorganized, ugly, and that we’re superior to it. We would like to be a god in our own right: that is the victory of contempt. We would also like company; so if we can get somebody out of this world and possess that person, we think we have really pulled a universal fast one.
These two desires—to become who we really are through using a man to know and like the world, and to be “a god in our own right,” were fighting intensely in me. . . .
Mistake #2: Thinking Love & Justice Are Two Different Worlds
I see the film Erin Brockovich as important in showing that women want very much to be a force for justice to people. It also comments on something only Aesthetic Realism makes clear: the awful mistake of making love a separate world where we are soothed and made important and don’t need to be fair to a damn thing.
The film is based on the life of an actual woman named Erin Brockovich and her fight against a horrendous injustice, causing agonizing illness and death to hundreds of families in California: the continual dumping since at least 1965 by Pacific Gas & Electric, one of the world’s largest utility companies, of an extremely toxic, cancer causing chemical, hexavalent chromium, knowingly allowing it to seep into the water supply. People everywhere, and Ms. Brockovich herself, need to know what I learned from Aesthetic Realism: what she is fighting is the contempt for human beings inherent in private ownership for profit; and it is the same contempt that has a woman feel she owns a man and can do with him whatever seems in behalf of her own comfort.
We like Erin Brockovich, played by Julia Roberts, because she’s a critic, and she’s also trying to be kind, has feeling for people. She has contempt also, and is scornful and angry in a way that hurts her and others. Meanwhile, there’s a desire to show herself in a way I respect—she’s not smooth! Julia Roberts in this role has an affecting relation of fierceness and tenderness, pride and vulnerability, sureness and unsureness. . . .