Aesthetic Realism is the philosophy of aesthetics founded by the American poet and critic Eli Siegel in 1941. Its primary teachings are:
Beauty in art is the making one of opposites, such as order and freedom, logic and passion, strength and grace.
Everyone's deepest desire is to like the world on an honest or accurate basis.
The desire to have contempt—that is, to lessen the meaning of things in order to see one's self as superior--causes unhappiness and even insanity.
Aesthetic Realism: The Philosophy
Aesthetic Realism is based on the idea that reality, or the world, has a structure that is beautiful—like the structure of a successful poem or painting. Since reality, which can be defined as “everything that begins where your fingertips end,” is made in a beautiful way it can be liked honestly.
Aesthetic Realism and poetry
Aesthetic Realism states that the world and all that is in it can be seen poetically. Whatever we may meet--whether fortunate or unfortunate--we can be proud of how we see it.
Siegel explains why poetry is needed for this: “Poetry, like life, states that the very self of a thing is its relations, its having-to-do with other things. Whatever is in the world, whatever person, has meaning because it has to do with the whole universe: immeasurable and crowded reality.”
Eli Siegel's 1924 poem "Hot Afternoons Have Been in Montana" begins: