Miriam Weiss   Writer & Aesthetic Realism Associate

From an Aesthetic Realism Public Seminar
by Miriam Weiss

Until the age of 18, my whole demeanor presented a three-word answer to the question “What Should A Woman Be Passionate About?”—not too much. I was often bored, spoke in a barely audible voice and felt run down much of the time. I thought showing large emotion was ridiculous and embarrassing, feeling not much warranted getting that worked up about, except perhaps the study of Asian culture and history which I was engrossed in.

Aesthetic Realism taught me that to be passionate about justice to the world and people is the way I’d really be taking care of myself. Mr. Siegel explained:

[A person] will not be fully human until he [or she] is interested in justice with great intensity and with the comprehensiveness which does not wish to miss any of its forms.

My life began to change when I learned that I was born, as every person is, to like the world, and that this desire was constantly up against and often smothered by another intense desire to feel important through lessening other things. In an Aesthetic Realism Lesson I attended in 1978, Mr. Siegel explained what had hurt me when he asked: "[Aren't you] what they call 'A don't give a damn girl?' Have you enjoyed not giving a damn?"

MW: Yes. I've gone after it.

Eli Siegel: And [you've] come to think that the less [you] cared for the more successful [you] were?....Have you tried to get yourself into a state of uncaringness?

Miriam Weiss : Yes.

Eli Siegel : So what has the result been?

Miriam Weiss: I haven't liked myself.

I began to understand why I had worried that I was incapable of having true feeling for anyone. I remember seeing a snapshot of my grandmother and sister standing in the sunlight in Rockaway. They were laughing heartily, their heads thrown back in delight, and I secretly wished I could have that feeling. But I had so "prided" myself on thinking no one would ever catch me looking out of control, that even when I wanted to be excited, I couldn't.

One thing I was passionate about was being against the war in Vietnam, whose brutal injustice I am grateful my parents encouraged me to see. But with all the anti-war activities I took part in, I never felt I could let go with feeling as other people did.