Aesthetics for Birds

Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art for Everyone

February 27, 2018
by C. Thi Nguyen
5 Comments

What’s Missing from Cookbook Reviews

Read enough cookbook reviews, and you’ll start to notice a curious gap. Cookbook reviews mostly focus on how the recipes turn out — how tasty the dishes are, or how authentic they are. Sometimes they’ll also talk about the quality of writing, or how much you learn about some region’s culinary history  or food science or the author’s childhood or whatever. But usually they leave out what it feels like to actually cook the goddamn things.

February 23, 2018
by Alex King
1 Comment

Black Panther and Crossplay: Why Cosplay is More Important Than You Think

In a post for the Oxford University Press Blog titled “Cosplay is Meaningless”, G.R.F. Ferrari, a professor of Classics at Berkeley, argues that cosplay is just about perfecting the art of dress-up. He writes: Cosplayers … are not out to intimate something about themselves, or, for that matter, about anything else. As an occasional cosplayer myself, I have to say that I couldn’t disagree more with what Ferrari says. Cosplay is much more aesthetically, socially, and personally important than he gives it credit for.

January 24, 2018
by Roy T Cook
2 Comments

Punk Rock Philosophy 3: Amateurism and the Myth Of Sid Vicious

In this, my third post on the aesthetics of punk rock, I will continue my examination of Jesse Prinz’s idea (as detailed in “The Aesthetics of Punk Rock”) that punk rock (in its various forms) is characterized by three qualities: Irreverence Nihilism Amateurism The topic of this post and the next is amateurism. (See here for the introductory post, and here for the post on nihilism. As already noted in previous posts, I don’t have much to say about irreverence.)

December 20, 2017
by Roy T Cook
4 Comments

Punk Rock Philosophy #2: Nihilism or Activism?

I began this series of posts here, setting up the issues and summarizing Jesse Prinz’s main points in his groundbreaking “The Aesthetics of Punk Rock”. Readers of that post will recall that Prinz identifies three characteristics of punk rock that he thinks are central to the genre: Irreverence Nihilism Amateurism Readers of that post will also recall that I have nothing at this point to say about irreverence (of course, there likely is much to say about the exact sort of irreverence that is at work in punk rock, but I’m not going to do that today). Thus, we’ll move on to the second topic in the list: nihilism.

December 15, 2017
by Roy T Cook
1 Comment

Five Useful Facts About the Force and Related Matters (or, What You Need to Know Before You See the Last Jedi)

Star Wars: The Last Jedi opens today. I suspect many if not most of you will go see it. Hence, I constructed this little guide to some important aspects of the Star Wars saga. Obviously, given both the prevalence of words like “Force” and “Jedi” in the title of this film and the (narrative-wise) previous one, and what we know of the story so far, it seems safe to assume that the nature of the Force, and clashes between different aspects or interpretations of the Force, will be front-and-center in the new film. Hence, I’ve concentrated on some Force-errific trivia tidbits that might be useful in navigating that aspect of the story: Arguably, R2-D2 is the protagonist of the overall Star Wars story. In an interview conducted while filming Return of the Jedi, George Lucas stated that the Star Wars saga was being narrated by R2-D2 to the Keeper of … Continue reading

December 14, 2017
by Matt Strohl
1 Comment

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

November 2, 2017
by C. Thi Nguyen
6 Comments

Algorithmic Satire

We are witnessing the birth of a new comedic form: satire by algorithm. You want to make fun of some category of thing, and show how empty and mechanical and simplistic all the examples of that thing are. So you make a bot that randomly generates new examples of that thing. And the entire point is that it’s a bot. And often, it’s utterly crucial that it’s a dumb and obvious bot. This is why isolated exposure to the only one or two bot-Tweets or bot-memes doesn’t get you the full package. The real sharp end of the joke hits when you start to catch on to the rules, when the raw and obviously algorithmic nature of the bot reveals the utter banal predictability of its target.

October 18, 2017
by Roy T Cook
8 Comments

Punk Rock Philosophy: Introduction

The following is the first post in a series on punk rock. Click here for entry #2. In a 2014 article in Philosophy Compass titled “The Aesthetics of Punk Rock” Jesse Prinz (who guest-blogged for AFB here!) presents an aesthetic analysis of punk rock aimed at both fostering a deeper understanding of the genre and at teasing out larger lessons for the philosophy of music (and the philosophy of art more generally). His analysis comes in two stages. First, he provides a framework for understanding punk rock music (and the punk subculture within which it is produced and consumed) in terms of three central themes: Irreverance. Nihilism. Amateurism. Prinz then uses this three-part story to draw two larger conclusions: Punk rock involves an explicit rejection of traditional aesthetic norms, illustrating the plasticity of taste (and as a result serious consideration of the genre recommends a rejection of global norms of “goodness” or … Continue reading

June 29, 2017
by C. Thi Nguyen
1 Comment

Personal Aesthetic Categories, Therapist Edition

One of the things I collect is people’s odd little invented aesthetic categories. They’re usually personal, often work-related, and usually arise from a human soul being endlessly confronted with the same set of relationships and experiences, in the work-grind, and trying to cope. I, for example, have a very private list of the most tragicomically overreaching introductory sentences from student papers. (“Since the time of the dinosaurs, man has yearned to define the Quest for Truth.” Etc.) Here’s a particularly satisfying one I just collected, from a therapist friend who asked to remain anonymous. (Photo credit: Peter Barker) “Top ten facial tissue handling patterns by patients engaging in psychotherapy: 1. The relieved post-sobbing messy scrunch ball. 2. The careful triangle; unused. 3. The careful triangle, folded before crying; used for gentle dabbing at gentle tears. 4. The careful triangle, folded after crying to hide the snot. 5. Messy, self-conscious, post-sobbing squares. 6. The anxious … Continue reading