Aesthetics for Birds

Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art for Everyone

April 25, 2019
by Aesthetics for Birds
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An Experiment in Philosophy and Poetry

What follows is a guest post by philosopher Aaron Meskin. He discusses a book that he and poet Helen Mort recently co-authored. In it, Mort “replies” to a variety of different philosophers’ papers with original poems, and the philosophers get to reflect on the poem and its relationship to their work. This piece is also cross-posted at Daily Nous.

July 20, 2017
by Aesthetics for Birds
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Emergent Poetry and Google Translate

Google Translate’s Emergent Poetry Some of you will be familiar with computer poetry, poetic compositions generated by computers using algorithms. Some of you may even be familiar with computer prose, as the book The Policeman’s Beard is Half Constructed (text here). There are lots of things to say about this. Who’s the author? Is it really poetry? And what does it say if computer poetry passes the Turing test? Last week, I stumbled upon something new in this neighborhood, care of Google Translate. You might think this would be generated by inputting something funny (but promising if you think about it) like assembly instructions or political speeches–or even something translated into a different language, then translated back. Instead, this Google Translate poetry takes as input a single, repeated Japanese hiragana character. As you can see above, the returns are surreal and delightful. (For all of these, I’ve used ‘ke’, け.) See here and here for … Continue reading

January 10, 2017
by Alex King
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Poet Answers Standardized Test Questions About Her Poetry – Incorrectly.

I must alert you to an awesome piece by poet Sara Holbrook on HuffPo, where she explains that Texas used two of her poems for middle school standardized tests. Holbrook: receives an email from a distressed teacher who doesn’t understand the answers discovers poor formatting that adds to the confusion finds the questions in question cannot, ultimately, answer them The narration of her thought process going through the questions is also delightful. At one point, she writes: Parents, educators, legislators, readers of news reports: STOP TAKING THESE TEST RESULTS SERIOUSLY Idiotic, hair-splitting questions pertaining to nothing, insufficient training, profit-driven motives on the part of the testing companies, and test results that simply reveal the income and education level of the parents. All very fair. But then a bit of intentionalism to finish it all off! My final reflection is this: any test that questions the motivations of the author without asking the … Continue reading

November 15, 2016
by Rebecca Millsop
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Artists Respond to the 2016 Election Results + Auden Poem

Follow these links for some great coverage on how artists are responding to the 2016 election results. Please feel free to share any information about how artists are responding to the election results in the comments below. ArtNet News: Here’s What Artists Have to Say About the Future of America Under Donald Trump ArtNews: Morning Links The Art World Reacts to a Trump Victory Hyperallergic: Artists Respond with Devastation, Then Determination, to the Election of Donald Trump For your viewing pleasure, here is the cold open from Saturday Night Live this past weekend. A response to the 2016 election results and Leonard Cohen’s death from the obviously multi-talented artist and comedian, Kate McKinnon: [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BG-_ZDrypec] In conclusion, an Auden poem: September 1, 1939 | W. H. Auden, 1907 – 1973 I sit in one of the dives On Fifty-second Street Uncertain and afraid As the clever hopes expire Of a low dishonest … Continue reading

December 12, 2014
by Aesthetics for Birds
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Philosopher-artist Interview: R.A. Briggs

Philosopher and Poet R.A. Briggs interviewed by Alex King R.A. Briggs is a philosopher and a poet. She has been a Research Fellow at the Australian National University and at Griffith University since 2012. She has published widely on issues in metaphysics, epistemology, and decision theory. Her poetry has also been published many venues, but you can get a lot of it in one place in her book, Free Logic, which won the 2012 Thomas Shapcott Poetry Prize for emerging poets in Queensland and was shortlisted for the 2014 Queensland Literary Award in the poetry category.

January 2, 2014
by Aesthetics for Birds
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Interview with Philosopher-Poet Troy Jollimore

What follows is an interview with philosopher and poet Troy Jollimore. Troy is Professor of Philosophy at California State University, Chico. He is the author of Love’s Vision (Princeton University Press, 2011) and On Loyalty (Routledge, 2012) as well as over a dozen articles in journals including Midwest Studies in Philosophy, Canadian Journal of Philosophy, and American Philosophical Quarterly. He is also the author of two collections of poetry: At Lake Scugog (2011) and Tom Thomson in Purgatory, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry in 2006. He is a former External Faculty Fellow at the Stanford Humanities Center and is a 2013 Guggenheim Fellow. Aesthetics for Birds recently featured an interview with poet and critic David Orr, author of Beautiful and Pointless: A Guide to Modern Poetry. Much of David’s work as a critic aims at demystifying poetry for a modern audience. Of course, philosophical enquiry can be said likewise to aim at the demystification of its … Continue reading

October 10, 2013
by Aesthetics for Birds
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Interview with Poet & Critic David Orr

What follows is an interview with poet David Orr. David is the poetry columnist for the New York Times Book Review. His first book, Beautiful & Pointless: A Guide to Modern Poetry, was named one of the twenty best books of 2011 by The Chicago Tribune.  Orr is the winner of the Nona Balakian Prize from the National Book Critics Circle and the Editor’s Prize for Reviewing from Poetry magazine.  His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The New Yorker, Slate, Poetry magazine, The Virginia Quarterly Review, and The Believer, among other publications. He holds a B.A. from Princeton and a J.D. from Yale Law School.