AESTHETICS FOR BIRDS

Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art for Everyone


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ARTIST INTERVIEW: MICHAEL THOMAS CONNOLLY

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Musician, recording engineer, and producer Michael Thomas Connolly interviewed by Alex King for AFB

Originally from Memphis, Tennessee, Michael Thomas Connolly is a musician, recording engineer and producer in Seattle, WA. Obsessed with learning new skills, Michael is avid multi-instrumentalist and performs professionally on fiddle, mandolin, upright bass, accordion, piano, Hammond organ, guitar, dobro, bagpipes, flute and pennywhistle. He runs the venue and recording studio, Empty Sea Studios, and has engineered approximately 100 full-length records in approximately 20 years of multitrack recording. He has performed and toured with Coyote Grace, and has appeared on ABC’s The Gong Show. He is a ham radio enthusiast, computer geek, motorcycle rider, and cat lover, and has recently switched to decaf. Continue reading


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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.) Continue reading


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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:

  1. Irreverence
  2. Nihilism
  3. 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. Continue reading


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HAPPY ARTSY HALLOWEEN!

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In the past, AFB has posted a few appropriately themed music videos for the holidays (see, e.g., here and here). But we’ve decided to take it up a notch!

When a holiday rolls around, various regular contributors to AFB will spotlight holiday-appropriate works of art. These are not necessarily works that the particular contributor thinks are the absolute best (although they might be), and they are not necessarily unfamiliar or particularly avant-garde. But hopefully the mini-essays included will introduce you to a new perspective on at least some of these works, or even just remind you of really cool works that fit that into the holiday mood!

In the future we plan on setting these up as a series of week-long mini-posts leading up to the holiday in question, but this Halloween we’re just going to throw a few of them at you all at once. So here goes! Continue reading


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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:

  1. Irreverance.
  2. Nihilism.
  3. 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 “good taste”).
  • Punk rock provides a fertile testing ground for the idea that art and identity are (often) irreversibly intertwined, and thus a full understanding of (at least some) musical genres is impossible without an accompanying story about social identity formation (including fashion, politics, and lifestyle) within the subculture.

Over the next few months, I will be posting a series of essays further exploring and complicating Prinz’s discussion of each of these ideas (in posts titled Punk Rock Philosophy), with the possible exception of “irreverence” (about which Prinz’s discussion seems straightforward to me, and pretty much exactly right). In this initial post I want to set up some of the requisite background, and outline the approach (and one or two controversial assumptions) I will be making in the posts to follow. Continue reading


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PHILOSOPHER-ARTIST INTERVIEW: ANNELIES MONSERÉ

Philosopher and Musician Annelies Monseré interviewed by Alex King for AFB

Annelies Monseré is a post-doctoral researcher at Ghent University (Belgium) and a musician. Her philosophical work focuses on definitions of art. Her PhD thesis investigated the metaphilosophical assumptions underlying the project of defining art. Currently, she is working on the implementation of a normative approach to defining art, an approach she defended in her thesis. Annelies has been a recording and performing artist since 2000. Her music has often been described as minimal, dark and experimental. She has put out two LP’s and many EP’s. A third record is to be released soon. Moreover, she has collaborated with other musicians, most notably Jessica Bailiff, and she is currently playing her music with a band. For more, visit Annelies’ Bandcamp Page.

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EDITOR-ARTIST INTERVIEW: PETER MOMTCHILOFF

OUP Editor and Indie Rock Legend Peter Momtchiloff interviewed by Christy Mag Uidhir for AFB

Peter Momtchiloff has been philosophy editor at Oxford University Press since 1993. He studied classics at Oxford. He has played guitar in many bands, including Talulah Gosh, Heavenly, and currently the Would-be-goods and Les Clochards. Continue reading


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ARTIST INTERVIEW: IVAN ANDERSON OF SWEET FIX

Musician Ivan Anderson interviewed by Christy Mag Uidhir for AFB

Ivan Anderson is a guitarist and copyeditor living in New York City. He graduated from Brown University. Ivan plays lead guitar in SWEET FIX, a neon, futuristic, cyber rock band in NYC. Their first full-length album, Golden Age, was produced by Geoff Stanfield (Sun Kil Moon, Firehorse, Black Lab). Members of SWEET FIX are endorsed by Godlyke Distributing, Jo Lyon Underfashion, and ZU Shoes.
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PHILOSOPHER-ARTIST INTERVIEW: THE COUNTERFACTUALS

Philosophers and Musicians “The Counterfactuals” interviewed by Christy Mag Uidhir for AFB

The Counterfactuals play an addictive brand of indie jangle-pop, with a signature blend of golden hooks, Americana, and a dose of grit. Their debut album, Minimally Decent People, was released in January 2014, and has been met with acclaim from audiences and critics alike. After hearing one demo, 89.3 FM The Current dubbed the band “must-hear music” and later featured their single “If you go then you go it alone” as their Song of the Day. The Counterfactuals are heading into the studio to record their second album this summer. You can read some of what people have said about the band at The Daily Album, The Current Local Blog, and Tropics of Meta.

Andy Flory (bass) teaches course in American music at Carleton College. He has written extensively about American rhythm and blues and is an expert on the music of Motown. His book, I Hear a Symphony: Listening to the Music of Motown, is forthcoming from The University of Michigan Press. Working directly with Universal Records, Andrew has served as consultant for several recent Motown reissues. He is also co-author of the history of rock textbook What’s that Sound (W.W. Norton).

Jason Decker (guitar, sound engineer) is Assistant Professor of philosophy at Carleton College and interested in epistemology, logic, metaphysics, philosophy of language, philosophy of science, and just about any philosophical problem worth its salt. He has published papers in journals such as Synthese, Erkentniss, Analysis, Analytic Philosophy, and Philosophy.

Michael Fuerstein (drums, sax) is Assistant Professor of philosophy at St. Olaf College where he works on issues concerning the social distribution and advancement of knowledge, particularly in political and moral contexts. He has also more recently become interested in the moral aspects of contemporary capitalism, and has been involved with a newly formed “Society for Progress” devoted to bringing together business leaders, business scholars, and philosophers. His work has appeared in venues such as Episteme, The Journal of Political Philosophy, and The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy.

Daniel Groll (vocals, guitar) is an Assistant Professor in the philosophy department at Carleton College and an Affiliate Faculty Member at the Center for Bioethics at the University of Minnesota. He works on issues at the intersection of normative ethics, epistemology, and medical ethics and has papers published or forthcoming in Oxford Studies in Metaethics, Analytic Philosophy, Ethics, The Hastings Center Report, Pediatrics, and Philosophy Compass. Continue reading