Aesthetic Realism is the philosophy founded by Eli Siegel (1902–1978) in 1941. It is based on three core principles. First, according to Siegel, the deepest desire of every person is to like the world on an honest or accurate basis. Second, the greatest danger for a person is to have contempt for the world and what is in it—contempt defined as the false importance or glory from the lessening of things not oneself. And third, it is the study of how what makes for beauty in art is a guide for a good life: “All beauty is a making one of opposites, and the making one of opposites is what we are going after in ourselves.”
In large part, Rust Belt Chic is an aesthetic. It is a look that looks past the illusion of having everything shiny and nice. It is an aesthetic that lays naked in the reality that life is not easy, but neither does life have to be lost to the necessary hardships that entail living. Rust Belt Chic is in fact about rejoicing in the ability to live and survive in an area that is less false than sometimes we wish it to be. Illusions are fun after all. Rust confronts.