Aesthetic Realism Consultant Nancy Huntting

Julia Roberts and Aaron Eckhart in "Erin Brockovich"

From film "Erin Brockovich"

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Aesthetic Realism Seminar

The Most Popular Mistakes about Love—
& How Not to Make Them!

by Nancy Huntting, from Women Are Various Seminar 
at the Aesthetic Realism Foundation, NYC 10012

As a woman who has made many mistakes about love, I want women everywhere to learn from Aesthetic Realism 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—was to see love as a haven from a world I did't like, where I would be glorified. This leads to other mistakes, such as 1) the impelling belief that this popular notion of "love" is the only really exciting thing there is, and much of the rest of life is dull; and 2) the right man will answer all our questions. "You want to fall into his arms," Mr. Siegel said to me once in a class, about a man I was in a whirl about, "but it doesn't end there." No, I can happily answer now, it doesn't.

     To my surprise, I learned that love, the real thing, is not in competition with everything else. Its purpose is much larger—to like the world through another person. And when a woman has this as her conscious purpose, she has a real chance not to make the mistakes that ruin love.

Mistake #1: Love Is Where We Are Glorified

In his lecture "Aesthetic Realism and Love," serialized in the journal The Right of Aesthetic Realism to Be Known, Mr. 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. 

     Growing up in Ohio, I loved ballet classes, climbing trees, going to the local library, and school. I wanted to learn the structure of English sentences, found math problems so satisfying, and was excited by early American history. But when Davey Brown, a boy in my class, kissed me by the swings, I felt a new thrilling power as this handsome boy seemed so smitten by me. 

     Increasingly I wanted a boyfriend to be a buffer against all the people who weren't so smitten—who I summed up contemptuously as cold or annoying. What I thought was all consuming "love" for my high school boyfriend, Terry McGage*, included jealousy, suspicion, anger, and tears. I wanted him safe and sound; completely under my spell. Meanwhile, I didn't like myself. I felt I was clinging, weak and shy, afraid to express myself. But the mistake of thinking that love was getting a man to sufficiently adore me, continued. 

     When I met Steve Moore in New York City, shortly after college, I thought he was serious, working his way through school, and had an enthusiasm I found irresistible. He had many friends, showed me New York, introduced me to his field, architecture, which I came to love. When we began living together I felt it was a dream come true, but soon I found myself resenting the very things I had liked—everything that meant something to Steve other than me! I was getting increasingly ill-natured. Once when he went, without phoning me first, to an after-work party, I was furious. Steve knew I wouldn't have enjoyed myself because I didn't like talking to people—but that didn't stop me from keeping him up late into the night, tearful and scornful at how selfish he was! Some years later we separated, and like many women today, I spent a lot of time nourishing my hurts in my mind. I'm so grateful that in Aesthetic Realism classes Mr. Siegel asked me questions that enabled me to see my mistakes and learn from them. 

     "Did you want Mr. Moore to feel he was independent?" Mr. Siegel asked in one class. No, I felt he was already too damn independent! But I wasn't proud of this feeling. 

Eli Siegel: Where was he suspicious of you? The greatest suspicion of men is that in some way they don't understand, a woman is trying to make them weaker. Was your purpose to have him dependent on you? 

NH: I've seen him as very independent. 

ES: Did you want to change that, though? 

     I did. I began to see how, in wanting Steve to need me more than anything else, I wanted him weaker. Mr. Siegel asked: "Did you feel you would conquer the world by having Mr. Moore need you?" I did feel this. 

     "Did you feel you were wholly yourself in relation to Mr. Moore?" Mr. Siegel asked. "No," I answered. "I never did. I used him to lessen my interest and care for other people." And Mr. Siegel asked: "Do you think there is any such thing as true love? Love is defined in two ways by Aesthetic Realism: 1) Love is proud need; 2) Ecstasy through good will." 

     Studying Aesthetic Realism, I learned my questions were like those of other women and also men, and I got truly interested in knowing other people. Having good will, which Mr. Siegel described as "the desire to have something else stronger and more beautiful, for this desire makes oneself stronger and more beautiful," is essential for love to fare well. It is also the high point of intellect. If a woman wants to have a man in a separate world, just for herself, both persons will feel their deepest desire, to like the outside world, is being stifled, and fury ensues. And good will, I learned, is aesthetic: it is the oneness of criticism and kindness, for and against. We are passionately for what is good in a man as we are against what is not good I him. This purpose makes for romance that is authentic, emotions that sweep us and make us better!

* Names of persons have been changed

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