Realism Public Seminar
Fight in Every Woman Between Selfishness & Generosity
by Nancy Huntting
many people, I wanted
to be generous,
but was selfish in ways I tried to make look noble. In The
of Aesthetic Realism to Be Known #114, Mr. Siegel describes the
directions we all have:
is a being given
simultaneously with his having a mind inclusive of everything and
to separate itself from a regard for all life, all reality....The
lack of good sense in man is his failure to see that he has two
and to see what harm two directions have done to him. The great harm,
Realism shows, occurs when our interest in ourselves makes us
of the world we are born to know and like.
To solve the fight in us between
generosity—this is what we most need to know!
1973 I met Aesthetic Realism
and the accuracy
and generosity of Eli
Siegel's good will for the whole world.
really began for me then, and my gratitude is unlimited. Tonight I
about my own life and what a woman is learning in Aesthetic Realism
and about aspects of the life of the writer and journalist, Martha
born in St. Louis in 1908, she died in 1998 at the age of 89.
lovely and blonde, Martha
Gellhorn had nearly
every advantage money and education could provide, and easily could
chosen a pampered, selfish life. I respect very much that she
never settle for this. There was a fight about it throughout her
life which caused pain, including in the 5 years she was married to
Hemingway—meanwhile, there was an impelling desire in her to meet
in its diversity, to be affected deeply, to give her thought
This generosity made for powerful, valuable expression.
is the only journalist ever
barred from returning to South Vietnam because the articles she wrote
so passionately critical of our horrible bombing and napalming of men,
women and children. We can learn from the fight in her—and the way
life shows the most truly selfish purpose is fairness to the
Self Love Makes for Emptiness
a child I used my parents
of me to have contempt and to feel sated— that I didn't have to give
my attention to other things or people. As I got older, this
1968, after my college
boyfriend, David Harper,
was sent to Vietnam, I was angry that for months he didn't write—not
because I was concerned about his life, but because I wasn't the most
thing in it. I didn't give one thought to what he was feeling and
I made unreal the fact that children, mothers, husbands were being
there. When he came back and wanted to see me—I had a new
I saw David once because, I told myself, I felt "sorry" for him.
And then I had the nerve to complain that his return was presenting a
situation for me!
I deeply saw taking care
of myself as
lessening everything else, by the time I was 27 I felt dull,
half alive. I had a terrific desire to be served, and the man I
with made all the decisions and arranged all our social
The most I gave myself was in refinishing chairs in my antique store; I
had a feeling of pride as I saw a lovely vitality and color came out of
darkly caked, dry wood. But I always felt tired and we quarreled
more and more.
by the greatest good
fortune, I met Aesthetic
Realism. In my first consultation I learned why I disliked myself
and felt so stuck. My consultants asked what I had most against
and I said it was an "attitude I have that I'm not able to do
"What's the big competition to interest in other things?" they
sense of insecurity,
you think the big
competition," they asked,
Consultants: —is interest in
oneself? You felt the world was not too worthy of
your deep, constant consideration?
I was mostly
concerned with myself.
told them I thought I was
afraid of the
world, and they gave this tremendously important explanation of why:
think you came
to a picture of things that had too much contempt in it?
were a situation
or a person you were fair to, would you feel afraid of that?
In consultations and
later in classes
with Eli Siegel, my contempt and selfishness were beautifully
criticized. Mr. Siegel described something so ordinary and hurtful in people as he
one person looks at
is so much easier to say, "This person has given me pain" than "Have I
been fair to this person?"
I began to learn
what it means to think deeply about other people, beginning with my
mother and father. For the first time, I thought about what my
father felt inside, and even though he had died I began to really try
to know him; and my mother and I, instead of fighting, became so much
kinder—we were really able to listen to each other and like our
conversations! As I was more accurate and just in how I thought
about people, I felt a self-respect and energy I had never felt
before. I began to be able to like myself and like being on this