Two weeks ago, I pointed to several Aesthetic Realism maxims by Eli Siegel from his book Damned Welcome: Aesthetic Realism Maxims. These statements—many of them swift and pithy—are, he wrote, “meant to bother into appreciation.” I find myself thinking of some of these maxims as I try to make sense of what’s happening in our confusing time.
So here are others that encourage me very much.
“If you have time, remember it’s a privilege.”
“The universe, being clever, has given scientists trouble.”
“Let us not be angry at the way we’re angry.”
“It hasn’t yet been scientifically proved that any lovely thing is really over.”
“We are of the world; our job is to be fair to the preposition.”
As we’re all looking to make sense of a world that has beautiful spring flowers and a terrifying pandemic, we need the way of seeing that’s in the study of Aesthetic Realism. A means to this is the wonderful maxims by Eli Siegel in his book Damned Welcome. In the preface to the book, Mr. Siegel writes:
These maxims are…in behalf of a world too often seen as unkind, dull, and just too bewildering for anything. It is better to be bewildered by an Aesthetic Realism maxim about things than by things themselves….
The present maxims…are on the side of a reasoned gaiety, and a spontaneous, bubbling seriousness. They are meant to bother into appreciation.
Here are some that I love, and feel are relevant to our time. More will follow!
“Our loveliest memories can be helped by our most fundamental hopes.”
“Sighs should be efficient; if not, we should long for their departure.”
“A person is courageous who is comfortable in larger territory than is usual.”
“When we don’t want people to get the hard facts about ourselves, we are not in favor of these three things: the facts, people, ourselves.”
“Only a person who loves people can be alone rightly.”
“Being oneself is a lifetime job, not to be shirked when we sleep.”