It’s back-to-school season. For those of us who work in education, that means thinking about readings, syllabi, course design, and all that exciting stuff. For others, it means less outdoorsy vacation time and more indoor activities. No matter which group you fall into, we thought some reading recs might be nice.
This year we are introducing a reading list on art, aesthetics, and disability.
A symposium on Korean Aesthetics is forthcoming in the next issue of The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, so, to mark the occasion—and perhaps whet your intellectual appetite—I want to share a gem of a passage that I came across a few years ago.
The passage is from Park Jiwon (박지원 (pen name: 연암 yeonam), 1737-1805), an eighteenth-century Korean philosopher and novelist who belonged to the “practical learning” school.
Pictures may seem like a strange way to philosophize, since people tend to think of philosophy as existing exclusively in written tomes. However, once you let go of the notion of philosophy as abstract ideas put into writing, you start to see it in lots of places. Think of René Magritte’s surrealist paintings such as his “La Durée Poignardé” (literally: Duration Stabbed, but translated more figuratively as Time Transfixed), which features a train racing out of a fireplace. To reflect on this picture requires active engagement and imagination on the part of the viewer.
Writing Why it’s OK to Love Bad Movieshas given me an opportunity to bring together two of the most important parts of my life: my cinephilia and my research in philosophy of art. This is not a book I dreamed up in a library or classroom. It emerges from the countless hours I’ve spent immersed in the medium of film, and it’s more of a love letter than a treatise. The ideas I present convey my own way of being as much as my views about debates in aesthetics.
What follows is a case study by Theodore Gracyk, excerpted from Bloomsbury Contemporary Aesthetics, the newest module of the Bloomsbury Philosophy Library. Bloomsbury Contemporary Aesthetics is anchored by a set of exclusive and original case studies contributed by some of the leading voices in aesthetics today, and written to introduce new students to the broad range of topics in aesthetics and the philosophy of art, from interpretation and ontology to appropriation, taste, curiosity, and the aesthetics of confusion. More information on BCA and the Bloomsbury Philosophy Library follows below.
“All philosophy is based on only two things, having a curious spirit, and bad eyes.”1
In an interesting aside in the Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1689), Locke writes,“Were our Senses alter’d, and made much quicker and acuter, the appearance and outward Scheme of things would have quite another Face to us.”2 Raised on comic books wherein heroes and villains often had augmented senses, I have long dreamed about what the world would look like to superhuman perception. Locke himself specifically mentions the prospect of our vision being made “100000 times more acute than…the best Microscope.” Records of his library also show he had a copy of Robert Hooke’s popular and hard-to-get Micrographia (1665),3 in which Hooke described the microscope as an “artificial Organ.” Here is one of Hooke’s images of a fly, the sort of appearance Locke might have had in mind: