The editors gave my letter the title "Good Fortune"
As we approach the first anniversary of 9/11, fear and depression are widespread in our country. Unless people know that the world, even at its most terrifying, can be honestly liked, even greater horrors will happen. Aesthetic Realism, founded by the American philosopher Eli Siegel, states that it is every person’s deepest desire to like the world, and it shows that the world can be liked for its aesthetic structure. I had the good fortune to meet this great education in 1980.
      As the Twin Towers collapsed and so many died, I was only a few blocks away, and in the months and days that followed, I often felt I could not care for anything. Then I would think of this crucial question Eli Siegel asked: “Is this true: No matter how big a case one has against the world: its ugliness, its disorder, its confusion, its meaninglessness, must one do all one can to like it or one will weaken oneself?”
      I knew music could help make sense of what I felt on that terrible day. Eli Siegel stated: “All beauty is a making one of opposites, and the making one of opposites is what we are going after in ourselves.” As I listened to the early recordings of Louis Armstrong, which I love so much, I was affected by the relation of confidence and surprise in them, and the fact that poignancy and brightness, fragmentation and joy are in the same world and can be felt at the same time. I felt less separate, more like other people.
      In her commentary, “Terror and Liking the World,” in the international journal The Right of Aesthetic Realism to Be Known, Ellen Reiss, the class chairman of Aesthetic Realism, gives instances of how the horrific events of Sept. 11 can be used to like the world. “We should see that though certain evils are real, that doesn’t mean good is any less real. A symphony of Beethoven, with its tremendous oneness of emotion and structure; the kind might of Abraham Lincoln; the deep and charming greatness of Shakespeare — are as real as anthrax. We should not close our eyes to ugliness. But if we don’t use ugliness to say, ‘I want to value and be stirred by what is beautiful,’ we should know that we have a preference to see the world as ugly.
     " We are liking the world through the present situation if we say, ‘Yes, I hate having to worry about something terrible happening here, but through my worry I see other people more deeply. I feel more what a person in Baghdad has felt, worrying that an American bomb may come where she is. And even as I worry, I know that people have suffered more, including from U.S. embargoes and weapons, than I’m suffering now. I want, through this new worry forced on me and my countrymen, to try to see the full reality of other people.’ ”
      Through these great commentaries and through Aesthetic Realism classes and programs, my joy in life is returning. I want this to be possible for people in Suffolk County, where I grew up, and people everywhere. To learn more, there is a beautiful website at