Aesthetics for Birds

Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art for Everyone

August 27, 2021
by Aesthetics for Birds
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What Promising Young Woman Gets Right About Misogyny and Male Violence

Carey Mulligan in Promising Young Woman

What follows is a guest post by C.A. York.
Warning: This post contains spoilers as well as descriptions of sexual assault and violence.

Promising Young Woman, released after several delays due to the pandemic, pledged a “delicious new take on revenge” when the trailer for the film premiered in early 2020. Hell-bent on critiquing rape culture, while playfully paying homage to rape-revenge films of the seventies and eighties, director Emerald Fennell’s feature debut appealed to those familiar with the genre standards set out in previous rape-revenge classics such as the widely contentious I Spit on Your Grave, and Abel Ferrara’s cult classic Ms. 45. (Warning: Both film trailers feature implied rape and explicit scenes of violence.) Fennell herself has carried forward a fascination with murderous female enigmas with ingenuity. As second season showrunner of the BBC program Killing Eve and the Sundance short Careful How You Go, Fennell’s endeavors, thus far, have been in creative pursuits that feature captivating, violent female characters at the forefront of her storytelling. Taking on the gender and sex dynamics embedded in the rape-revenge genre seemed a natural fit for her first studio project. However, the biggest shock of the film comes from Fennell’s refusal to gratify viewers with gratuitous sex or violence. For the majority of the film, explicit scenes of sexual and physical violence are obscured rather than graphically exploited. In an effort to subvert conventions and challenge attitudes, Promising Young Woman here offers something different.

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August 19, 2021
by Aesthetics for Birds
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Astrology: Informative, Harmful, or Just Plain Fun?

What follows is a guest post by Beba Cibralic (Georgetown University).

Like every self-respecting queer 20-something-year-old, I dabble in star signs. I’ll check my horoscope every once in a while to find out what kind of month it’s going to be and I’ve been known to create compatibility charts when I start dating someone. (For the uninitiated: these charts are based on factors related to your and the other person’s birth date and birth location.) 

To be sure, these are far from upstanding epistemic practices. Reading star signs does not reliably lead to knowledge, and there’s no way to verify that what you’re reading is true. There is no theory in epistemology that I’m aware of that would endorse my using star signs to form beliefs about whom I should date or to predict what will happen in a given month.

But I don’t read star signs because I’m seeking knowledge. I read them because it’s fun.

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August 5, 2021
by Aesthetics for Birds
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The Fluid Gaze: Wittgenstein, Western Dominance, and Cultural Porosity

18th century casta painting, via Wikimedia Commons

What follows is a guest post by Olivier Berggruen.

In recent memory, a number of voices have emerged, questioning the dominance of a primarily Western view of art history. We see this in textbooks, cultural institutions, and museums. Some critics see it as exclusionary; it perpetuates a hegemonic discourse at the expense of historically marginalized voices, especially those of women and the LGBTQI+ and BIPOC communities. There is an assumption that the construction of cultural identity has relied on a Eurocentric way of framing visual and literary culture. In the visual arts, some critics have identified an omniscient ‘White gaze’. This gaze, a way of looking that affirms a Western, European perspective at the expense of others, has increasingly been challenged by a more plural and diverse resistance that exists outside monolithic power structures.

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July 28, 2021
by Aesthetics for Birds
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Do We Still Need Physical Media?

Image via Pixabay

What follows is a guest post by Michael L. Moore.

Despite growing up in the 1990s, my first introduction to physical media was through vinyl records. My parents had countless of them left over from their youth, and spinning The Jackson Five Christmas Album every holiday season was as much tradition as Santa Claus coming down the chimney.

I didn’t quite understand how it all worked—how a 12” black disc with several circular grooves could emit “Little Drummer Boy” from the floor speakers—but between the big, bold cover art and the fun, retro turntable, my entry point into physical media began with wonderment.

But by the time the ‘90s arrived, popularity in vinyl was waning. Most of my physical media memories actually involved buying CDs and VHS tapes. I fondly remember the good ol’ days of heading to Sam Goody to purchase the latest pop album on CD or Hollywood feature film on home video.

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July 16, 2021
by Aesthetics for Birds
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The “Uncanny” Life and Philosophy of Joseph Margolis: A Farewell

What follows is a guest post by Andrea Lorenzo Baldini (Nanjing University) talking about the life and philosophy of the recently passed Joseph Margolis (Temple University)

The philosopher of art Joseph Margolis passed away on June 8th of this year. I received the news about his passing while I was riding the subway on my way to a meeting with one of my students. The sad update was mentioned in an email that a common friend sent to me. Joe, as we usually called him, was 97 years old, born on May 16, 1924. He received his PhD from Columbia in 1953, where he met – among others – the influential philosopher and art critic Arthur Danto. He started teaching at Temple University in 1968, and would never retire.

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July 13, 2021
by Aesthetics for Birds
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Music, Theology, and Philosophy: A Conversation with Artist-Theologian Julian Reid

Image courtesy of Julian Reid

Artist-Theologian Julian Reid interviewed by Alex King

Julian is an artist-theologian who plays, speaks, and writes at the intersection of music, faith, and story. He is a founding member of the jazz-fusion group The JuJu Exchange and has two personal projects, including his solo show Inherited and his devotional series Notes of Rest. He also works with the grassroots organization Fearless Dialogues. He studied theology and the arts at Candler School of Theology and, before that, philosophy at Yale. He and his wife Carmen are based in his beloved hometown of Chicago. You can learn more about Julian on his website and keep up with him at @julianreid17 on Twitter/Instagram.

During or after you read this interview, please enjoy the sounds of the JuJu Exchange.

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