Aesthetics for Birds

Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art for Everyone

October 8, 2021
by Aesthetics for Birds
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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
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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
3 Comments

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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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
4 Comments

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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