Praise & Approval —
Is There Anything a Woman Wants More?
From an Aesthetic Realism Public Seminar
by Miriam Weiss
Yes, I have learned--There is something a woman wants more than praise and approval it is the ability to appreciate rightly the world and people. The desire to appreciate honestly is equivalent to our deepest purpose--to like the world, and it is what all our senses are for--to hear, see, feel what s outside of us--a symphony, a sunset, good food, the texture of a fabric. But Aesthetic Realism explains there is also a drive in people not to like or appreciate at all, which is contempt. "There is that in every human being", Mr. Siegel said, "which would feel glorified if the universe was a third-rate show and worse; or was an old wagon with its wheels not working and its floor lacking a few planks".
In my second Aesthetic Realism consultation when, giving my opinion of Beethoven I said "He's okay", my consultants asked:
Do you think there's a triumph in saying he's OK? It's saying: I can take things people have cared for for centuries and do what I want. Do you have pleasure in feeling that the largest things in reality have no meaning?
I did. I thought that all the praise should come to me, and that seeing value in what wasn’t me made me less. But what I thought was a great triumph was really an inability. In school while I loved history, studying the American Revolution and the Civil war, my true appreciation met stiff competition and was getting strangled by the feeling I also had that it was cool to show everything was boring. By 7th grade my social studies teacher told my mother that despite my good grades, he felt that I was "jaded", and he was right. I have a vivid picture of myself at that time sitting in my friend's apartment surrounded by her father's jazz collection pronouncing smugly how dull jazz was even though I knew next to nothing about it. In his lecture, "Aesthetic Realism and Appreciation" Mr. Siegel explained:
Whenever we fail to appreciate something, deeply it's because we appreciate something else too much. We are lopsided somewhere. Just as when a person fails to be excited by something that should excite him, he appreciates indifference too much--so when some people cannot see with any greatness or depth of feeling what deserves to be seen, it means that something else has been give too much value.
What I was giving value to as I cultivated indifference and looked down my nose at more things every year, was my own contempt. But as I prided myself on my discernment in not appreciating what many people did, I grew dull and had fearful thoughts. I love Mr. Siegel for explaining that the best thing in us will not let us get away with injustice to reality we inevitably dislike and punish ourselves for it.