What follows is a guest essay by Elizabeth Scarbrough.
The loudest voices on the internet have had the same response to Lizzo playing James Madison’s crystal flute and Kim Kardashian wearing Marilyn Monroe’s dress: unbridled outrage. How dare she (Lizzo/Kardashian) desecrate a piece of our country’s cultural heritage! Those are precious, irreplaceable items! How will we ever recover!
What follows is a guest post by G. M. Trujillo, Jr.
Jason Allen recently ignited a firestorm of controversy by winning first place in the Colorado State Fair’s digital art competition. His work, Théâtre D’opéra Spatial, is undeniably beautiful. Its color palette and composition evoke drama. Expressive brush strokes prove care for each element. And the subject—women staring out onto the countryside from a vaguely European but suggestively futuristic ballroom—invites interpretation. Maybe it is a comment on being “kept women”, the anonymous ladies secluded from nature and politics in their artificial home. Or maybe the painting is a comment on class, the wealthy women in the ballroom looking out at rustic people. But Théâtre D’opéra Spatial is a digital painting generated by AI.
The advent of sound recording has made audiences experience music differently than audiences did for all of history before that. This may sound like a grandiose overstatement, but it’s true. For the last 75 years, popular music listeners have tended to think of songs as belonging to particular recording artists and represented canonically by a particular recording. We think of that as the original recording, and every version after that by anyone else is a cover.
My apologies to chance for calling it necessity. My apologies to necessity if I’m mistaken, after all. Please, don’t be angry, happiness, that I take you as my due. May my dead be patient with the way my memories fade. My apologies to time for all the world I overlook each second. My apologies to past loves for thinking that the latest is the first. Forgive me, distant wars, for bringing flowers home. Forgive me, open wounds, for pricking my finger. I apologize for my record of minuets to those who cry from the depths. I apologize to those who wait in railway stations for being asleep today at five a.m. Pardon me, hounded hope, for laughing from time to time. Pardon me, deserts, that I don’t rush to you bearing a spoonful of water. And you, falcon, unchanging year after year, always in the same cage, your gaze always fixed on the same point in space, forgive me, even if it turns out you were stuffed. My apologies to the felled tree for the table’s four legs. My apologies to great questions for small answers. Truth, please don’t pay me much attention. Dignity, please be magnanimous. Bear with me, O mystery of existence, as I pluck the occasional thread from your train. Soul, don’t take offense that I’ve only got you now and then. My apologies to everything that I can’t be everywhere at once. My apologies to everyone that I can’t be each woman and each man. I know I won’t be justified as long as I live, since I myself stand in my own way. Don’t bear me ill will, speech, that I borrow weighty words, then labor heavily so that they may seem light.
Warning: This interview contains explicit language, including a homophobic slur.
Kendrick Lamar has established himself as an artist of the highest degree. His work centers Black American experiences and life, presenting them in ways that are loving, sympathetic, harsh, shocking, and beautiful. His rap has been widely lauded for its perspective as well as for its musicality and spoken word artistry, and he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for his 2017 album, Damn.
But his newest offering, Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers, has been met with mixed responses. Many listeners find it an impressive and fitting extension of his oeuvre, while others have criticized it for expressing problematic views about trans and queer individuals. Here, five scholars from a variety of disciplines examine the album through their own academic, art critical, and personal lenses.
What follows is an essay by Aaron Richardson (Simon Fraser University).
One part of the internet is invisible to the sighted, but keenly visible to the blind: alt text. Short for “alternative text,” alt text improves accessibility for blind readers by describing an image textually. That text appears in the code, which can then be read to visually impaired users through a piece of technology called a screen reader. But this text is likely to remain completely hidden to sighted users, except for the relative few involved in coding and composing.
What follows is a guest post by Gabriel Thomas Tugendstein (Florida State University).
In a recent episode of HBO’s Barry, Fuches’s caretaker Ana attempts to convince him to forgo his vengeful plans. She relays “the tale of the Bolam-Deela,” a fable about murdered souls who are offered the chance to forgive or haunt their murderer. All but one choose revenge, take on the form of a panther to attack their killer, and eventually find their souls stuck at the bottom of the ocean. The boy who chooses forgiveness is sent to heaven.
Fuches seems distracted. “The vengeance-army-panther thing. How long did it take him to put that together?” he asks. “It didn’t really happen,” Ana tells him, “It’s a morality story. It’s not real.” He looks off to the side, plotting. “But it could be.”
It’s back-to-school season. For those of us who work in education, that means thinking about readings, syllabi, course design, and all that exciting stuff. For others, it means less outdoorsy vacation time and more indoor activities. No matter which group you fall into, we thought some reading recs might be nice.
This year we are introducing a reading list on art, aesthetics, and disability.
A symposium on Korean Aesthetics is forthcoming in the next issue of The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, so, to mark the occasion—and perhaps whet your intellectual appetite—I want to share a gem of a passage that I came across a few years ago.
The passage is from Park Jiwon (박지원 (pen name: 연암 yeonam), 1737-1805), an eighteenth-century Korean philosopher and novelist who belonged to the “practical learning” school.