Aesthetics for Birds

Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art for Everyone

September 9, 2020
by Matt Strohl
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Arguing About Art on the Internet, Part 1: Why We Do It, and Why It Often Goes Badly

What follows is a co-authored post by Brandon Polite and Matthew Strohl. It is the first piece in a two-part series. See part two here. The ascendancy of the internet has generated a wide range of difficult new questions for philosophers of aesthetics. Our concern in this piece is the way the internet has reshaped aesthetic discourse and has made aesthetic disagreement far more immediate and pervasive. Social media allows users to broadcast their evaluations of artworks to hundreds or thousands of followers any time of day and, as a result, has ushered in the Golden Age of Everyone Having an Opinion. We are specifically concerned with the general tendency of the internet to promote hostility in aesthetic discourse. Rampant hostility has emerged in a wide variety of contexts, ranging from large-scale fan movements to remake a poorly received season of a widely loved television series or a controversial entry … Continue reading

August 14, 2019
by Matt Strohl
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The Ethics of Artisanship: Or, No, You May Not Put Milk in Your Coffee

Sometimes I put milk in brewed coffee. I do so when I go to I-HOP for a plate of International Pancakes and a bottomless cup of diner swill. Sometimes I buy coffee at the airport. It’s usually godawful sludge that’s been over-roasted and brewed too strong before stewing in a hot coffee urn for god knows how long. You better believe I add some milk to this stuff; it’s too ghastly to drink black. Milk can make bad coffee less bad. It also of course has its place in a number of venerable espresso drinks. But what about good brewed coffee? There are some coffees that you just shouldn’t add milk to. The term “Third Wave” refers to the movement that treats brewed coffee as an artisanal product. High quality, well-processed beans are sourced from small farms, roasted to exacting specifications meant to highlight the coffee’s origin character, and brewed … Continue reading

March 22, 2018
by Matt Strohl
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Netflix and Will

[Editor’s note: This piece was updated in September 2021.] Aesthetic weakness of will is usually thought of as an incongruity between one’s judgment about the quality of an artwork and one’s liking for it. If I think the Twilight movies are bad but I can’t help but like them, that’s supposed to be aesthetic weakness of will. But is liking really a matter of the will? I might be able to take actions meant to diminish my liking for Twilight: carry around a picture of Bella and Edward and look at it every time I feel nauseous, tell everyone I meet that I like Twilight to give them the opportunity to shame me, or deliberately watch the movies more often than I want to so that I become sick of them. If I judge that I should take these actions but then fail to follow through because I love Twilight too much, that sounds like weakness of will. … Continue reading

December 14, 2017
by Matt Strohl
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A Guide to the Cinema Of Jacques Rivette

The following is cross-posted here and at Matt Strohl’s blog, Strohltopia. There is wide chasm between the importance of Jacques Rivette’s work and the amount of attention it receives in the USA. My aim here is to promote Rivette awareness and provide information and guidance for those who are looking to get into his stuff but unsure of how to proceed. Intro 1. Why Care About Rivette? 2. Chronological Survey The Sixties The Seventies The Eighties The Nineties The Aughts Miscellaneous 3. The Viewing Guide Where to Start Recommended Viewing Itineraries, organized by degree of hardcore-ness Appendix: PAL speedup and what to do about it

September 21, 2017
by Matt Strohl
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Against Rotten Tomatoes

For Matt’s updated thoughts about this topic, see his book, Why It’s OK to Love Bad Movies. Rotten Tomatoes was in the news this summer, as reports were made that the teams behind the Baywatch reboot and most recent Pirates of the Caribbean installment blame the critical aggregator for the films’ poor performance at the box office.  Both films had tested well, and the studios believe that audiences skipping the films in light of their poor Rotten Tomatoes scores otherwise would have attended and enjoyed them.  There is some evidence that the impact of Rotten Tomeatoes on box office earnings has in fact been minimal, but it’s hard to deny that the website has seen an increase in influence in recent years.  There’s no longer any need to actively search for RT scores.  If one simply Googles the title of the movie one is hoping to see, the RT score has … Continue reading