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:
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.
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?
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
"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
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
* Names of persons have