On Aesthetic Realism and Edith Wharton's Summer, continued
II. Real Love Is Care for the World
In one Aesthetic Realism consultation, when I said I liked going out with men I saw as impressive, my consultants explained:
Women want to have power over men they see as powerful....If a man is very much given to something, a woman would like to get his mind off it. So do you think you'd like Mr. J. to stop reading Tolstoy and give his attention to McCluer?
I answered, "Yes." And they said,
If you were really interested in him, you would want him to care more for literature, not less.
My learning from Aesthetic Realism that the purpose of love is to like the world made possible my marriage to Aesthetic Realism associate Kevin Fennell. Together we are the parents of a daughter, who is 11. In consultations, I began to get the education about love women are yearning for; I learned what it means to have a strengthening effect on a man, to see him just as he is and in relation to the wide world.
In one consultation assignment as we were coming to know each other, I wrote about Kevin in relation to this main principle of Aesthetic Realism: "The world, art and self explain each other; each is the aesthetic oneness of opposites." I was studying how he, like everything in reality, is an aesthetic situation. This is the power of seeing—completely opposed to the power of conquering. Through it, my feeling for Kevin Fennell grew larger; I liked myself for this kind of thought, and the triumph I had gotten through conquering men was hollow in comparison. I wrote:
Kevin Fennell...has a self that is like no other, making him a unique example of the human race. And yet he needs things and people in order to live...He needs books to know more and to feel more; he read Martin Chuzzlewit and his feelings mingled with those of Charles Dickens....There are impressions of the world in him....He has a memory of the Colorado River. As he talks or thinks about it, the river becomes him and he becomes it--both composed and excited at once.
As I continued having Aesthetic Realism consultations, I had larger, deeper emotions about everything—I saw the opposites in a plate of food, in cars on a city street, in a painting by Renoir, and in people, including the man who became my husband. And as I was more affected by things and people, I felt freer, more truly powerful: my thought was clearer and I had hope and happiness. And I knew at last I could like myself for how I was with a man.
More coming in my next post!