AESTHETICS FOR BIRDS

Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art for Everyone


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CITIZEN TRUMP: AN INAUGURATION DAY SPECIAL FROM AFB

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Did you know that Donald Trump’s favorite movie is Citizen Kane?

Did you know that the famed film director (and one-time Berkeley philosophy PhD candidate) Errol Morris interviewed him about it?

And did you know that LitHub’s Anthony Audi interviewed Errol Morris about that?

On Rosebud, Morris recalls:

It’s fun to hear Trump talk about how Rosebud somehow works, the metaphor works, “I don’t know why it works, but it works. After all, Steven Spielberg paid a lot of money for it, so it must work. Paid a lot of money, maybe seven figures, six figures.”

This comment is in reference to Spielberg’s having purchased the sled used in the film for $60,500 in 1982. (In fairness, that is six figures in 2008 dollars – about $135k.)

Humor aside, Trump seems to be suggesting an aesthetic theory on which money is evidence of – or perhaps constitutive of – quality. (Surprising, I know.)

Check out the video of Morris’ 2008 interview with Trump below:

The interview contains some intriguingly vulnerable moments. (“Wealth does in fact isolate you from other people. It’s a protective mechanism.”) But also some classic Trump.

Morris: “If you could give Charles Foster Kane advice, what would you say to him?”

Trump: “Get yourself a different woman.”

One last gem of Morris’ from the LitHub interview:

I have this concept based on possible revisions to the DSM V, the diagnostic manual for American psychiatry, and I was going to call it Irony Deficit Disorder: the absolute inability to appreciate irony on any level whatsoever, particularly when the irony involves oneself.

To find out more, follow the above links or check out these articles:

Excellent meme via @laurenweinstein on Twitter


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100 PHILOSOPHERS 100 ARTWORKS 100 WORDS #61

Philosopher: Rossen Ventzislavov, Woodbury University

Artwork: Last Year at Marienbad, 1961, directed by Alain Resnais

Words: Last Year at Marienbad” is a cinematic argument for the inscrutability of thought. In the radical absence of plot, actions barely animate the succession of mysterious dioramas. The film’s cold aesthetic appeal—its rhythm of architectural and sartorial chiaroscuro—suggests relationships beyond the visible. But what does it all amount to? If this were merely an elaborate exercise in style, why would it leave the impression that it hides so much? And if it had a deeper meaning, why would it remain so persistently unavailable? What if logic could completely dissolve in the seduction of a cognitive impasse? 


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NEW MA IN PHILOSOPHY & THE ARTS AT THE UNIVERSITY OF WARWICK, UK

Applications are now open for an innovative new MA at the University at Warwick allowing students to combine Philosophy with one or more Arts disciplines. Warwick Philosophy operates a rolling admissions process, considering applications as they come in. Early application is encouraged to secure a place.

A Formal Garden, Janson, 1766
The contributing departments to the new degree are i) Philosophy ii) English & Comparative Literature iii) Film & TV, and iv) Art History. Candidates take modules from Philosophy plus one or more arts disciplines, and have the option of gaining the degree by fulfilling the coursework requirements of 6 modules or of 4 modules plus dissertation. The degree has been designed to introduce students from both Philosophy and a variety of Arts and Humanities backgrounds to detailed philosophical study of the arts, in combination with the kind of first order critical, theoretical and historical attention to works of art, film and literature offered by the relevant Depts. A first degree in Philosophy is not required for this programme, but conveners will be looking for evidence of previous theoretical/philosophical study of a relevant art, plus aptitude for philosophical study of the arts.

The degree has been structured so as to allow students maximum flexibility in tailoring the degree to their specific interests—e.g. by focusing narrowly on philosophy and one art, or more widely across philosophy and diverse arts. The following combinations are possible:

  • Philosophy & Literature
  • Philosophy & Film
  • Philosophy & Art History
  • Philosophy, Film & Art History
  • Philosophy Art History & Literature;
  • Philosophy, Literature & Film
  • Philosophy, Film, Art History, & Literature*

(*Non-dissertation route only.)

All students take the co-taught core module “Topics in Philosophy & the Arts:” http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/philosophy/studywithus/pgtstudy/modules/ph9f7/

Together with modules of their choice from the extensive list available across the contributing Depts. Information on the modules currently available can be found here:

https://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/philosophy/postgraduate/modules/
http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/arts/english/currentstudents/pg/masters/modules/mamodules16_17/
http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/arts/film/prospective/ma
http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/arts/arthistory/applying/postgraduate/macourses/modules/

More detailed information on the degree can be found by following the links on the pages below:

http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/study/postgraduate/courses/depts/philosophy/taught/philosophyartsma/

http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/philosophy/studywithus/pgtstudy/ma-philosophy-and-arts

The degree is supported intellectually by the Warwick’s internationally renown Centre for Research in Philosophy, Literature and the Arts:http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/philosophy/research/researchcentres/phillit


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POET ANSWERS STANDARDIZED TEST QUESTIONS ABOUT HER POETRY – INCORRECTLY.

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I must alert you to an awesome piece by poet Sara Holbrook on HuffPo, where she explains that Texas used two of her poems for middle school standardized tests.

Holbrook:

  • receives an email from a distressed teacher who doesn’t understand the answers
  • discovers poor formatting that adds to the confusion
  • finds the questions in question
  • cannot, ultimately, answer them

The narration of her thought process going through the questions is also delightful.

At one point, she writes:

Parents, educators, legislators, readers of news reports: STOP TAKING THESE TEST RESULTS SERIOUSLY

Idiotic, hair-splitting questions pertaining to nothing, insufficient training, profit-driven motives on the part of the testing companies, and test results that simply reveal the income and education level of the parents.

All very fair. But then a bit of intentionalism to finish it all off!

My final reflection is this: any test that questions the motivations of the author without asking the author is a big baloney sandwich. Mostly test makers do this to dead people who can’t protest. But I’m not dead.

I protest.

Whoa – okay. Now the little dose of philosophy:

She definitely thinks she has the final word on how her poetry is interpreted! But like, does she really? Maybe she’s a good poet but a bad interpreter. (I’ll admit that the questions and answers do in fact seem a little silly. And I’ll be the first to throw down about how terrible standardized testing is.) But in principle, there’s no reason to think that just because she can’t answer the questions, they’re bad questions. Right? What do you guys think?

Go read the whole thing on Huffington Post.

Image credit: t-shirt design via Fashionably Geek – sorry little birdies, it looks like it’s sold out! 😥


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WHISPERS OF POWER #12

Announcement: There will be four more entries (including this one) in the Whispers of Power series. Thanks to all of you who have gotten involved so far! You’ve made it a great series. But to allow for more involvement from those of you who have wanted to contribute, but haven’t yet, we will be leaving the remaining contests open for two weeks rather than one.

Remember: if your caption wins, it will be drawn into the partially finished artwork you see below, and your caption + the below image will become the final artwork, on which you will be listed as an official collaborator! You will also receive, by mail, a print of the final version.

Good luck!

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House of Cards, Season 4, Episode 2, 11:38

Title: Opposite

Description: Is there ever more distance between two intimates than when they are sitting on opposite sides of a bargaining table? The discomfort between Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) and his wife Claire (Robin Wright) has reached its climax. Their once close relationship has become a mere formality, driven by pure protocol and personal power play. The vertical line down the center of the image divides and separates each into their own space. Is this the end for them?

Readers, please help us by supplying a caption for this image! As a reminder, the winning caption will be hand-drawn into the blank space below the image. The reader who supplies the winning caption will receive a signed print and be named an official collaborator for this piece. Submit captions below in the comments!

Contest closes Saturday at noon (US, EST). Winner announced Sunday. Next piece up in one week! Keep tabs on the project and contest at the project website here, review the details of it at the previous post here, or see previous posts in this series here.


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WHISPERS OF POWER #11 WINNER

We had a lot of great submissions for this one. It makes it tougher for us, but also more exciting! Congratulations this week to Aron Goossens for his Jim Morrison quote! And honorable mention goes out to JR for a Claude McKay quote.

(Aron: Email aestheticsforbirds@gmail.com with contact details for your prize.)

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House of Cards, Season 3, Episode 7, 46:46

“You can only lose something that you have. You cannot lose something that you are.”

– Jim Morrison

This Jim Morrison quotes has a couple of great nuances: Can he lose his wife? Should we think of her as “something that [he has]” – or something that has become a part of him? And how much more tragic for him not to be able to lose something that he is, if who he is turns out to be pretty awful.

Title: Loneliness

Description: The quietest moment in the story is a poetic one. Separated from his wife Claire (Robin Wright), Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) faces true loneliness. In this image, the darkness threateningly creeps up from behind him, as his sole companion and most faithful ally has disappeared.

Next piece up tomorrow! Keep tabs on the project and contest at the project website here, or review the project over at the previous post here.

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VENGEANCE IN BRIGHT PINK

You might think that you can’t, like, own a color, man.

But you’d be wrong. (And actually you’d have been wrong for a while. See Yves Klein Blue.)

Context: Maybe you remember the dustup earlier this year when superstar artist Anish Kapoor acquired the exclusive rights to (artistic) use of Vantablack, the blackest black in the world. Check it out:

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you can totally see through your screen that it’s the blackest black in existence, right?

Snarky remarks aside, it seems to make the aluminum look downright velvety. Artists were (reasonably) pissed about not being able to use this.

One such artist took revenge. Stuart Semple has developed the pinkest pink in existence. Check it out:

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it’s definitely pinker than this image can depict

And he’s making it available to everybody except Kapoor. Even you* can go grab a jar for £3.99.

*Unless you’re Anish, in which case, wow! We’re super flattered. Click-like-share this blog with your friends!

He’s also developed the glitteriest glitter, which is about twice the price of the pinkest pink, and also available to anybody except Kapoor.

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so why is everybody just talking about the pink?

Real questions: Are these really the pinkest pink and glitteriest glitter? On what sort of scale? Is this just a publicity stunt? Was what Kapoor did just a publicity stunt? Does any of that matter? And is it a problem for the future of art, now that you can actually own certain colors? Or is it no big deal?

Read more:

Images credits: (1) via Wikimedia Commons; (2) and (3) via CultureHustle, Stuart Semple’s website
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WHISPERS OF POWER #11

Two special notes this week:
1. It’s the Christmas edition of Whispers of Power! Merry Christmas to readers celebrating the holiday.
2. On a more somber note, our thoughts are with our series artist Jörg Reckhenrich, a Berlin resident, in light of the awful events at the Berlin Christmas Market.

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House of Cards, Season 3, Episode 7, 46:46

Title: Loneliness

Description: The quietest moment in the story is a poetic one. Separated from his wife Claire (Robin Wright), Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) faces true loneliness. In this image, the darkness threateningly creeps up from behind him, as his sole companion and most faithful ally has disappeared.

Readers, please help us by supplying a caption for this image! As a reminder, the winning caption will be hand-drawn into the blank space below the image. The reader who supplies the winning caption will receive a signed print and be named an official collaborator for this piece. Submit captions below in the comments!

Contest closes Saturday at noon (US, EST). Winner announced Sunday. Next piece up in one week! Keep tabs on the project and contest at the project website here, review the details of it at the previous post here, or see previous posts in this series here.


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SEASONAL INTERMISSION

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Dear Readers,

Thanks for making the past few months such a success! In order to keep content flowing, we are going to take a break for the next few weeks. The Whispers of Power series will continue uninterrupted during this time, but other content will ease up for a little while.

Happy holidays! We’ll see you in 2017.

Aesthetics for Birds

Image: Three Kozuli, Lvova Anastasiya (Львова Анастасия) via Wikimedia Commons