Aesthetics for Birds

Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art for Everyone

November 4, 2021
by Aesthetics for Birds

Hi-Phi Nation’s Barry Lam on the Art of Podcasting

Barry Lam (photo by Melissa Surprise)

Philosopher and Podcaster Barry Lam interviewed by Alex King

Barry Lam is Executive Producer at Host of the Hi-Phi Nation podcast on Slate, the only narrative philosophy show at a major podcast network, which is currently in its fifth season. He is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Vassar College, and Associate Director of the Marc Sanders Foundation.

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October 28, 2021
by Aesthetics for Birds
1 Comment

What “Slave Play” Can Teach Us About Art and Ourselves

What follows is a guest post by Nicholas Whittaker (CUNY Graduate Center). It is based on ideas found in the article “Blackening Aesthetic Experience” in the Fall 2021 issue of the Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism.


Let’s start with something we can all agree on: there are things in the world we call artworks. Songs and plays, memes and movies, novels and dances and even perfumes. And of course, these things don’t just exist; we engage with them, we experience them! 

End of story, right? I’m not being glib. It really does seem like this picture is just basically right: we, human beings, experience artworks that exist in the world. I think it is basically right. You’re not about to get some arch “Well, how do we know Bach’s Aggripina or Real Housewives of Atlanta aren’t just figments of our imagination?” argument here. 

Instead, this post is about a way of talking about that basic picture—a way of talking that sneakily adds elements to it, and strips others away. This is a way of talking that seems so basic that it can be taken for granted as the only possibility. In taking it for granted, we don’t ask what it adds and what it takes away. We don’t even think to ask if it actually is basic. But we should.

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October 22, 2021
by utahphilosoraptor
1 Comment

The Challenge Of Canceling: Comedy, Chappelle, And The Closer

Dave Chappelle, from The Closer

So Dave Chappelle is back again with yet another Netflix special, The Closer. Its humor, which is hostile to LGBTQ+ people, dismissive of ‘pussyhat’ feminism, and defensive of celebrities like Kevin Hart, landed very badly to say the least. And the outcry has been loud.

How has Netflix responded?

They have suspended, and then reinstated, three employees who protested an internal meeting about the show. They have fired an employee who organized a walkout in protest of the special, saying that the employee had leaked internal metrics about it. (Apparently it cost $24 million to make. That’s $3 million more than the cost of Squid Game! They could have bought a lot more green tracksuits and dalgona with that.)

And how has Chappelle responded? Well…

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October 8, 2021
by Aesthetics for Birds
1 Comment

Why Genderfucking is Awesome

Photo of Ley, the author, comfortably at work

What follows is a guest post by Wesley D. Cray, Associate Professor of Philosophy at Texas Christian University.

The Real Joy of Working from Home

Like so many people, I was stuck working from home throughout most of the past year. Unlike almost all of the educators I know, I absolutely loved it. Sure, there were the obvious and perhaps widely relatable advantages: no time spent commuting, always home to catch the FedEx delivery person, having the luxury of teaching with my dogs snoring at my feet and a kitten purring in my lap. Those were certainly all welcome perks, but for me the greatest benefit was that, every day when I went to work, I got to dress like myself.

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October 1, 2021
by Alex King

The Performative Wokeness of Netflix’s The Chair

[Warning: Spoilers ahead.]

Netflix’s The Chair is the newest water cooler conversation fodder for academics. Or it would be if we could gather around water coolers.

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September 23, 2021
by Aesthetics for Birds

What Makes a City Beautiful?

Photo Courtesy of Tea Lobo

What follows is a guest post by Tea Lobo. It is based on her video essay “What Makes Cities Beautiful?

In everyday life we often experience cities as beautiful: we revel in the dizzying heights of Chicago, or in the way light reflects on the waters and windows of Utrecht, or perhaps the hustle and bustle of Jiufen and the feeling of having lost track of what is up and what is down. However, the city is only a marginal topic in aesthetics, the branch of philosophy dealing with beauty. What possible reasons are there for this disconnect between the interests of ordinary people and the activities of professional philosophers? What can be philosophically said about urban aesthetics?

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