this from Eli Siegel in an Aesthetic Realism lesson and it is written down
in capital letters in my notes: "THE BIGGEST SUCCESS — THAT WE LIKE
THE WORLD THROUGH KNOWING IT."
I learned that
the only way to like the world honestly is to see it as a oneness of opposites;
and further, that seeing it this way is the means to honestly liking yourself.
The more I study this Aesthetic Realism principle stated by Mr. Siegel,
the more I am thrilled at its truth: "The world, art, and self explain
each other: each is the aesthetic oneness of opposites."
I shall be
talking tonight about my life, what a woman learned in Aesthetic Realism
consultations and about the famous 20th century American artist whose works,
as one critic put it, "embody the supreme level of pictorial ambition,"
and whose tumultuous life is the subject of the recent film made by Ed
I. Two Ambitions—One True and One False
early wanted to be a painter, and as artist he welcomed challenges, set
himself new problems. He wanted a non-smooth life, drove in his old Ford
across the country, went into the deserts, over the hills, welcomed the
seeming impediments of a three-dimensional world as a means of freedom—he
wanted to put opposites together.
famous action paintings exemplify his true ambition—to like this world,
and they are a thrilling sight of a man loving the way weight and lightness,
thickness and airiness, impediment and release—are one in reality and showing
them in tangible paint handled with a knowing technique.
28, l950 there is such a careless grace, a feeling of inevitability,
a weaving in and out of those thick and thin black lines over a deep galaxy
of silver and blue space.
us such a lift are those solid, well placed, low and thick obstructions.
But they don't hold us down! There is a whirling, wild sense of freedom
here, and at the same a most cunning arrangement of space as to line, thick
as to thin, rise as to fall, abrupt angle and surprising dash. Here, impediment
is a means of freedom, and the artist's beautiful, central ambition is
satisfied, and we are satisfied. We feel we can be ambitious to be free
like that. It is a sign, as Eli Siegel has described, of the world itself
making beautiful sense, and we like it.
also went after contempt—he was surly as a child, and felt the way to be
free was angrily to get rid of interferences, just annihilate things. How
much did that swooping desire to get rid of a reality he saw as impeding
him lead to his early drinking, which was to ruin his life?
This is a letter
written as an 18 year old which shows both his true ambition, and how contempt
was hurting him:
shall be an Artist of some kind. If nothing else I shall always study the
Arts. People have always bored me....I have been within my own shell and
have not accomplished anything materially. In fact, to talk in a group
I was so frightened I could not think logically....