Aesthetic Realism is a cult
Who they are, how they operate • Written by former members

Get notified when I update this site.

About this "Aesthetic Realism is a cult"website

by Michael Bluejay • Original: 2005 • Last update: April 2022

Michael BluejayI'm Michael Bluejay.
  I'm a former member of Aesthetic Realism.  Here's my article about my experience in the group.  My day job is content writer and web developer.  Here's my bio page.  I run this site by myself, but other former members serve as advisors, and supply inside information.

Unexpected benefits from doing this site

The obvious reason for doing the site has been to get the truth about the group out there.  But there have been some unexpected benefits:

Other former members got the validation they needed

People who were abused by AR have told me that the site has helped them by seeing that someone else understands them, and is telling the world about the harm that AR causes.

"Your site is a great source of comfort and excitement to all of us, probably more than you can tell from the silence of most."

"[When I found this site], I was so thrilled to read the stories by the former students and kept finding myself saying out loud, 'YES! YES! THAT'S HOW IT WAS!'  I could hardly sleep that night out of happiness for the existence of this site.  I kept reading passages from the site to my wife long into the night. "

"Just want to thank you for your continued excellent work on this website.  I seriously think of you as an American hero for standing up to the bullies at the Aesthetic Realism Foundation."

Other former members now understand what happened to them

Some ex-AR people knew that they were hurt by AR but didn't understand how they were mind-controlled until they saw the explanations on this site.

I had not realized how much they had manipulated me until their tactics were explained here, suffice to say I am very grateful.

Reconnecting with my family

When I moved to Texas with my mother and stepfather when I was five, I lost contact with my birth father, even though he left AR a few years after my move to Texas.  When I got older I couldn't find him because he has a common name, and he couldn't find me because I've obviously changed my surname.  Well, after I started the site, my aunt Alice, who's still in AR, and not knowing that I wasn't in contact with my father and that he knew nothing about my website, called him to ask him to get me to take my website down.  From that call, he was able to easily find my site, and we reconnected when I was 38.  I also found out I have a step-sister I never knew about who I connected with.  So, thanks, Alice!

It's a boon to my own life

I didn't anticipate how exciting it would be to expose the Aesthetic Realists.  I never feel more alive than when I'm working on the site, and this project has greatly increased my quality of life.

How the website started

In July 2004 I wrote up a single page about AR, mostly to document this weird part of my former life.  I did hope it might also help warn others away from the group, but I knew the chances of that were pretty small, one because I didn't expect potential AR recruits to find it, and because they get almost zero new recruits these days anyway.  In my one-page article, I linked to another site where another former member (Adam) had posted a few paragraphs about his experience four years earlier.

Somehow the AR people quickly found my page, and the link to Adam's bit.  The AR people should have just ignored us, because our pieces were short and had almost no visibility on the web.  But a common characteristic of cults is hysterical, overboard reactions to criticism, so the AR people put up a nearly one hundred-page rebuttal website called "Countering the Lies", unbeknownst to me.

In late 2004 I got a call from a former member who started off by asking me, "Are you going to respond to the Countering the Lies website?"  But I didn't even know there was such a thing.  It's not as though the Aesthetic Realists sent me a press release.  So I checked it out, skimming the pages of their defensive B.S.  I asked myself, "Do I want to get in a pissing match on the Internet with a bunch of cult extremists, especially since almost no one will see it besides them, and especially since the group is dying out anyway?  I concluded no, that would not be a good use of my time.

But then I saw something troubling:  They went after my mother.  See, on my personal bio page, I'd said that I wasn't mentioning my mother by name because she's a private person and wouldn't want her name on the Internet.  Well, the lesson I learned is, don't tell the world what you don't want to have happen, because then your enemies will do it.  In slamming me, the Aesthetic Realists didn't just name her, they also included her previous name, as well as her husband's name.  Talk about petty.

So I wrote to them, saying, Look, your dispute is with me, not my mother, if you have any class you'll leave my mother (and her name) out of it.  They responded that they'd remove her name from their website if I took my entire page about AR down!  That was an interesting demand, because one of the things they say on Countering the Lies that I'm supposedly lying about is that, like other cults, they don't tolerate criticism.  To hear the Aesthetic Realists tell it, they're unabashed fans of criticism, and they love criticism so much they practically giggle with excitement as they rub it all over their bodies.  But here these criticism-loving people were, demanding I take my entire page down.  So much for tolerating opposing views.  They rather proved my point for me.

Anyway, I talked to Mom:  Did she want me to take my page down in order to get her name off their site?  She said no, I didn't have to give in to them.  That was a relief, because AR's demand really pissed me off.  So when they proposed the name-drop-for-page-drop, I replied, "Okay, counteroffer:  If you take my mother's name off your site, I will not get a top result in Google for a search on 'Aesthetic Realism'."  That was a win-win for me:  Either they'd take her name off, and I'd get what I wanted, or they'd refuse, and they'd pay for their sleaziness.  I really thought they'd pick the former.  After all, if there's anything the Aesthetic Realists hate more than criticism of their group, it's highly visible criticism of their group.  So I figured they'd do the logical thing and take my mother's name off their site, to avoid my critique of AR getting a lot more visibility.

I forgot I was dealing with cult members, and cult members aren't logical.  If they were logical they wouldn't be in a cult in the first place.  They refused my counteroffer.  So the battle had begun.  They'd pay for their sleaziness.

The best way to rank well for a topic is to have the best website about it, so in January 2005 I started building an authoritative site about the group.  I scoured the Internet for articles about it.  I visited libraries.  I pulled material from my own files.  And I put out the call for other former members to share their stories, which they did.  It snowballed: the more material I put up on the site, the more information others shared with me.  One former member shared his consultation tape.  Another shared a tape of a secret internal meeting.  A former high-ranking member submitted an incredibly detailed exposé.  Alan Rich, of New York Magazine, sent me an entire box of hate mail that the Aesthetic Realists sent him for a slight he'd made against them over thirty years prior.  I dug deep: If one old article I found referred to another article, I tried to find that other article as well.  That led to my getting in touch with Paul Grossman who shared the amazing piece he wrote for New York Native.

 Our Google Rankings

aesthetic realism
aesthetic realists
eli siegel
aesthetic realism foundation
aesthetic realism cult

And the Google rankings followed:  After just a year, I got to #3 for "aesthetic realism", and #1 for "aesthetic realists" and "aesthetic realism cult".  I'll probably never make it to #1, but #3 is good enough.  It was certainly good enough to get the AR people to go complaining to Google about this site ranking so high:

"I feel that there must be a serious unresolved flaw in the Google algorithm…[I]n searching for Aesthetic Realism in Google, a…site by a Michael Bluejay…has comparatively few pages, all consisting of terrible smears, on the subject of Aesthetic Realism. Yet it is #3 in Google…higher than the writings of Eli Siegel, who founded the philosophy.…Surely all this is the result of some unresolved flaw in the Google algorithm…" (source)

Cry me a river.

The funny thing about this is that the Aesthetic Realists have only themselves to blame:  Had they simply done the right thing and taken my mother's name off their website, the only thing I would have on the net about AR would be one little throwaway page that almost no one would ever see.  I never would have built this massive site exposing AR for what it really is, and getting it to the top of Google.  But now all their AR's secrets are public, and people are learning about them because this site ranks so well.  I'd say the AR people shot themselves in the foot, as the saying goes, but really, it seems more like they shot themselves in the head.


2012-2022:  A break

For about ten years I didn't do much work on the site.  I was recently married and was preoccupied with my new family, including stepkids.  In 2022 I finally dusted off the cobwebs, making the site mobile-friendly, giving it a modern design, and rewriting a few articles, and adding a few brand-new articles.

The future of the site

I have lots of source material I haven't added yet, but I probably won't ever do so.  It takes time, and the site is already an incredibly overwhelming indictment of AR.  If someone doesn't feel I've made my case with the mountain of evidence I already have, nothing more is going to convince them.

The only exception would be more former members writing up their experiences.  If someone is going to take the trouble to share what their time in AR was like, I'll take the time to post it.

Other than that, what's already on the site speaks for itself.

Thanks for reading this far!

Aesthetic Realism at a Glance


The Aesthetic Realism Foundation




Eli Siegel, poet & art/literary critic.
Committed suicide in 1978.


To get the world to realize that Eli Siegel was the greatest person who ever lived, and that Aesthetic Realism is the most important knowledge, ever.


We have a tendency to look down on others to make ourselves seem superior by comparison (contempt).  Every single problem in the world (including homosexuality) is the result of contempt.  By studying AR, we can learn to purge our contempt so the world will be perfect.  Also, beauty comes from the contrast of opposites.


New York City (SoHo)


About 66, as of 4/22, as ~23 teachers + ~43 teachers-in-training.  (In 2009 it was ~77 (33+44), and ~29 regular students.  You could consider them members, but I'm not including them in the total.)  Anyway, with only ~66 committed members, much for world domination.

All members call themselves "students", even the leaders/teachers.  Advanced members who teach others are called "consultants".
StatusIn serious decline.
They might have ten years left.

Method of study

Public seminars/lectures at their headquarters (in lower Manhattan), group classes, and individual consultations (three consultants vs. one student) (usually in-person, but also remote).

Cult aspects

  • Fanatical devotion to their leader/founder
  • Belief that they have the one true answer to universal happiness
  • Ultimate purpose is to recruit new members
  • Feeling that they are being persecuted
  • Wild, paranoid reactions to criticism
  • Non-communication (or at least very limited communication) with those who have left the group, and family members who refuse to join
  • Odd, specialized language.

  • More about cult aspects...

The best bits:  Cult aspects of ARDream to NightmareA journalist infiltratesAll the articles

Want to know when I update this site?

Get on our list and I'll let you know when I have new stuff.

And of course, your address is confidential.

The current AR members who troll this site are also welcome to sign up too.

©2004-2023 Michael Bluejay    moc.tluCkroYweN@rotide   Media/Interview requests • (512) 402-4364