On this site you will take part in an exploration of the place of aesthetics in anthropology and sociology.

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Rainbow in the Valley: Papua New Guinea


Anthropology Class taught by Dr. Arnold Perey.

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Anthropology is about you, whether you live in a NY apartment or a mountain home in Papua New Guinea. The founder of Aesthetic Realism, Eli Siegel, stated this principle--true for art and for people across the world: "All beauty is a making one of opposites, and the making one of opposites is what we are going after in ourselves." Study of this principle and its rich exemplification in the cultures of the world gives to anthropology the depth, kindness, and scientific accuracy that the human sciences need and are hoping for.

In this class we study diverse cultures and people, and their relation to ourselves--with aesthetics as the basis. As I have found, the principles of Aesthetic Realism enables the scientist to give full reality to the feelings of people from every culture and background, including one's. This knowledge can, and does, end racism and vastly increases kindness--a statement I make carefully, definitely, and with great hope.    Read more

Spring / Summer 2015
6:00 - 7:30 PM on Alternate Wednesdays
Taught at the Aesthetic Realism Foundation in New York City

In “A Basic Statement” Eli Siegel places the importance of aesthetics for anthropology. Describing the fundamental problem for everyone―to take care of one’s very self and be fair to the outside world at the same time―he then explained: “If the basic problem of a person at any time, in any society, in any culture, is to be met well or happily, aesthetics will be employed by that person.” Aesthetics is the oneness of opposites in any situation: including freedom and order, collective and individual, many and one.

May 20 • Many and One, or, Why We Need Labor Unions

The evidence of anthropology shows why labor unions have been needed in every culture: many people acting as one to get justice for all.

June 3 • Unique and Universal: Income Disparity in Old Mongolia
June 17 • Land and Self in Polynesia, Beginning with Tikopia Island
July 1 • Freedom & Order, Social Evolution, & Now
July 18 • Saturday (not Wed., July 15) Masks and Your Basic Problem
July 29 • Life and Not-Life in Puppet Shows of Asia
Aug. 12 • The Aesthetic Opposites in Anthropology

Students speak about the aesthetics of anthropological facts.

FOR PDF of THIS SEMESTER's Schedule of the class "Anthropology Is About You and Everyone" click on this line.




Gwe, Young Man of New Guinea -- a Novel Against Racism:

   From the Novel: Her second was born an hour before dawn, when it was cold, in the Rainy Season. According to custom, the child was nameless for 27 days and was secluded with her in a birth house built in a quiet tree-covered place by her brother and herself.  

     Those 27 days she held the small being in her arms, taking turns with her sister who was secluded with her. Thus the most vulnerable days for the infant were taken care of, keeping the baby steadily warm in mountain weather, cold even indoors.  

     Bettiana looked at his soft skin, the color of sunny earth. She felt his fingers grasp at her, and while he sucked milk from her breast she felt, blissfully, "The world is so kind." Then, in the dark, her mind seemed to turn upside down, and she remembered how insultingly her husband had ignored her opinion in the garden. Again, he said the potatoes she was ready to harvest weren’t big enough yet! She cradled the infant closer and thought, "But my baby loves me." The babe seemed to reply by paddling its little arms in the air and gurgling.    Read more from chapter 1   

Wepil of Divana illustrating where these tiny carving tools come from: the jawbone of a nibbling animal
My anthropological novel, based on Aesthetic Realism, and culturally accurate
Stone axe, as used by a man of the Mountain Ok area to cut down a second-growth tree


Anthropological Journal Entries



An anti-prejudice book for children,
inspired by a traditional story of the Ndowe People of Africa.
Told and illustrated by Arnold Perey.

Illustration from "Were They Equal?" #3, Tortoise shouts, "Hello, my friend!"
Illustration from "Were They Equal?" #2
Illustration from "Were They Equal?" #3

Elephant and Hippopotamus were chatting one day, and Elephant said, "Have you heard, that little tortoise has been saying he's equal to us! What nerve!"

Said Hippopotamus, "Who, that pipsqueak? My foot is bigger than he is! And he's saying he's our equal?" He was angry.

Hippo was the biggest animal in the river and Elephant was the biggest animal on the land. At the thought of Tortoise calling himself their equal, they both laughed out loud...

 For more info


A Doctoral Dissertation Based on Aesthetic Realism

Showing That a Society of Papua New Guinea Has an Aesthetic Structure and Purpose

A man resting after agricultural labor

Man resting from work in traditional sweet potato agriculture. I took this
photo where I did field research, in Betiana hamlet of Oksapmin, in the Mountain Ok region of Papua New Guinea.


diamond dot for Aesthetic Realism: A New Perspective for Anthropology & Sociology"A New Perspective for American Anthropology"

Published in The Anthropologist (University of Delhi, India). That New Perspective is provided by Aesthetic Realism, the philosophy founded by American educator Eli Siegel.

"Consider the native people of 0kapmin, New Guinea....Do they have two opposite attitudes to the world—that it has been kind to them and the gods have been good, and also that it has rooked them?"

Read new explanation of what you hope to understand: What is culture shock, and do I have it in my everyday life? What's the cause? Do people have more emotions in common than I think?

diamond dot for Aesthetic Realism: A New Perspective for Anthropology & SociologyKinship: "Body and World in Oksapmin Kin Terms"

By translating the terms used for relatives, we see a junction of body and the natural world that's symbolic of what people hope for: that world and self join accurately and kindly. Read more

diamond dot for Aesthetic Realism: A New Perspective for Anthropology & Sociology"Idealism and Practicality: How Can a Man Have Both?"

Paper presented in an Aesthetic Realism seminar in which I discuss my own life and that of the great anthropologist Bronislaw Malinowski, using his famed Diary in the Strict Sense of the Word, written in New Guinea 1914-1918. This paper is about the division in every person between being "practical" and "idealistic." I suggest in this paper that Malinowski, who was very courageous in the Diary, wanted to resolve this division in his tremendous contribution to anthropology, Functionalism.    Read more

Some Resources I Like & Recommend
bulletAmerican Anthropological Association
bullet Drama Meets Science: The Aesthetic Realism Theatre Co.
bulletThe Tremendous Meaning of Literature and Criticism
bulletAesthetic Realism Theatre Company
bulletAesthetic Realism Foundation
bullet"Arrows of Melanesia: A Neglected Art Form"

Depsin is one of the men I liked and respected during my field research
in the Mountain Ok area of Papua New Guinea

* Images from Papua New Guinea on this site are photographs taken by Arnold Perey.

Copyright © 2001-2015 by Arnold Perey. All rights reserved