Pretty Much Pop #61: Philosophy of Photography w/ Amir Zaki

Amir the photographic artist and prof (see amirzaki.net) joins Mark, Erica, and Brian to consider decision making in picture taking, how our purposes for photography have changed with the advent of new technologies, iconic images, witnessing vs. intervening, capturing the particular vs. the universal, and more.

For more, visit prettymuchpop.com. Hear bonus content for this episode at patreon.com/prettymuchpop.

Ep. 243: Aristotle’s “Poetics” on Art and Tragedy (Part Two)

Continuing on the Poetics from around 335 BCE, on the structure of plot (every element must be essential!), the moral status of the heroes, Homeric poetry, the difference between tragedy and history, and how Aristotle’s formula may or may not apply to modern media.

Begin with part one or get the full, ad-free Citizen Edition. Please support PEL!

End song: “Structure of a Tragedy” by Mark Lint. Read about it.

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Ep. 243: Aristotle’s “Poetics” on Art and Tragedy (Part One)

These notes from 335 BCE are still used in screenwriting classes. Aristotle presents a formula for what will move us, derived from Sophocles’s tragedies.

What is art? The text describes it as memesis (imitation), and tragedy imitates human action in a way that shows us what it is to be human. Aristotle has lots of advice about how to structure a plot optimized to our sensibilities. Join Mark, Wes, Dylan, and Seth to see if you think he’s right.

Don’t wait for part two; get the full, ad-free Citizen Edition now. Please support PEL!

Sponsor: For 20% off and free shipping on Ettitude’s CleanBamboo Charcoal sheets, text PEL to 64-000.

Ep. 243: Aristotle’s “Poetics” on Art and Tragedy (Citizen Edition)

These notes from 335 BCE are still used in screenwriting classes. Aristotle presents a formula for what will move us, derived from Sophocles’s tragedies.

What is art? A. describes it as memesis (imitation), and tragedy imitates human action in a way that shows us what it is to be human. A. has lots of advice about how to structure a plot optimized to our sensibilities. Join Mark, Wes, Dylan, and Seth to see if you think he’s right.

End song: “Structure of a Tragedy” by Mark Lint (2020).

Ep. 212: Sartre on Literature (Part One)

On Jean-Paul Sartre’s What is Literature? (1948), ch. 1 and 2.

What’s the purpose of literature? Why write prose as opposed to poetry? Sartre argues that while poetry is about the words themselves, prose is about the ideas, so it’s necessarily political. A written work is essentially an ethical appeal for a reader to apply his or her own faculties and experiences to complete the work through the act of reading.

Continue on part 2, or get your ad-free, unbroken Citizen Edition. Please support PEL!

Sponsors: Please visit calm.com/pel for 25% off a stress-reducing subscription and the St. John’s College Graduate Institute: partiallyexaminedlife.com/sjcgi.

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Episode 212: Sartre on Literature (Citizen Edition)

On Jean-Paul Sartre’s What is Literature? (1948), ch. 1 and 2.

What’s the purpose of literature? Why write prose as opposed to poetry? Sartre argues that while poetry is about the words themselves, prose is about the ideas, so it’s necessarily political. A written work is essentially an ethical appeal for a reader to apply his or her own faculties and experiences to complete the work through the act of reading.

End song: “Things I Shouldn’t Have Told You” by Sam Phillips, as interviewed on Nakedly Examined Music #90.

Ep. 207: Herder on Art Appreciation (Part Two)

Continuing on Johann Gottfried von Herder’s “The Causes of Sunken Taste among the Different Peoples in Whom It Once Blossomed” (1775), then moving to “On the Influence of the Belles Lettres on the Higher Sciences” (1781), “Does Painting or Music Have a Greater Effect? A Divine Colloquy” (1785), and and some of Critical Forests: Fourth Grove (written 1769). With guest rock god John “Jughead” Pierson.

What grounds good taste in society? Can an aesthetic education ground abstract thought? What would such an education consist of? Which is more affecting, music or painting?

Start with part 1, or get the Citizen Edition. Please support PEL!

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Ep. 207: Herder on Art Appreciation (Part One)

On Johann Gottfried von Herder’s “The Causes of Sunken Taste among the Different Peoples in Whom It Once Blossomed” (1775), “On the Influence of the Belles Lettres on the Higher Sciences” (1781), “Does Painting or Music Have a Greater Effect? A Divine Colloquy” (1785), and some of Critical Forests: Fourth Grove (written 1769). With guest rock god John “Jughead” Pierson.

What is aesthetic taste, and why do some societies (e.g., ancient Greece) seem rife with genius while others are not? Herder has some definite ideas about aesthetic, sensual education as grounding for abstract thinking, rages against attempts to copy another culture’s art forms, and likes melody over harmony. Plus he coined the term “zeitgeist”!

Continues on part two. Get the full, unbroken, ad-free Citizen Edition now! Please support PEL!

Ep. 207: Herder on Art Appreciation (Citizen Edition)

On Johann Gottfried von Herder’s “The Causes of Sunken Taste among the Different Peoples in Whom It Once Blossomed” (1775), “On the Influence of the Belles Lettres on the Higher Sciences” (1781), “Does Painting or Music Have a Greater Effect? A Divine Colloquy” (1785), and some of Critical Forests: Fourth Grove (written 1769). With guest rock god John “Jughead” Pierson.

What is aesthetic taste, and why do some societies (e.g., ancient Greece) seem rife with genius while others are not? Herder has some definite ideas about aesthetic, sensual education as grounding for abstract thinking, rages against attempts to copy another culture’s art forms, and likes melody over harmony. Plus he coined the term “zeitgeist”!

End song: “Dear Resonance” by John’s band Even In Blackouts. Hear him interviewed about his music on Nakedly Examined Music #58.

There Is More to Seeing Than Meets the Eye: Rejecting Scruton’s Conception of Photography

Roger Scruton famously rejected photography as an art form on the grounds that, being causal, photographs cannot represent an artist’s intentions. For Scruton, paintings can enable us to see lines, shapes and colors ‘as’ something other than lines, shapes and colors per se. Photographs cannot do this as they are tied to the visual scene they depict. Wilfrid Sellars’s ideas on the role of phenomenal content in visual perception provide a fruitful approach to questioning Scruton’s thesis.

Ep. 189: Authorial Intent (Barthes, Foucault, Beardsley, et al) (Citizen Edition)

On four essays about how to interpret artworks: “The Intentional Fallacy” by W. K. Wimsatt and Monroe Beardsley (1946), “The Death of the Author” by Roland Barthes (1967), “What Is an Author?” by Michel Foucault (1969), and “Against Theory” by Steven Knapp and Walter Benn Michaels (1982). When you’re trying to figure out what, say, a poem means, isn’t the best way to do that to just ask the author? Most of these guys say no, and that’s supposed to reveal something about the nature of meaning.

End song: “The Auteur” by David J (2018). Listen to Mark’s interview with him in Nakedly Examined Music #73.

Also check out the follow-up discussion.

Art, Authenticity, and Film

The Romantic film-philosophy of Cavell, Mulhall, Sinnerbrink, and Smith completes the triangulation of values among the ethical, cognitive, and aesthetic: in the same way that film links Smith’s innovations in the disciplines of aesthetics, philosophy, and culture, authenticity links the ethical, cognitive, and aesthetic values of film.

Episode 137: Bourdieu on the Tastes of Social Classes

On Pierre Bourdieu’s Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgment of Taste (1979), introduction, ch 1 through p. 63, conclusion, and postscript.

How do our tastes in music, art, and everything else reflect our social position? This philosophically trained sociologist administered a few detailed questionnaires in 1960s France and used the resulting differences in what people in different classes preferred and how they talked about these preferences to theorize about the role that taste plays in our social games.

Featuring guest Tim Quirk of Too Much Joy and recent guest on Mark’s Nakedly Examined Music podcast #8.

End song: “When She Took Off Her Shirt” from Tim’s band Wonderlick’s Topless At The Arco Arena (2005).

Ep. 137: Bourdieu on the Tastes of Social Classes (Citizen Edition)

On Pierre Bourdieu’s Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgment of Taste (1979), introduction, ch 1 through p. 63, conclusion, and postscript.

How do our tastes in music, art, and everything else reflect our social position? This philosophically trained sociologist administered a few detailed questionnaires in 1960s France and used the resulting differences in what people in different classes preferred and how they talked about these preferences to theorize about the role that taste plays in our social games. With guest Tim Quirk, recently featured on Nakedly Examined Music.

End song: “When She Took Off Her Shirt” from Tim’s band Wonderlick’s Topless At The Arco Arena (2005).

Episode 119: Nietzsche on Tragedy and the Psychology of Art

On Friedrich Nietzsche’s The Birth of Tragedy (1872). Nietzsche thought that you could tell how vital or decadent a civilization was by its art, and said that ancient Greek tragedy was so great because it was a perfect synthesis of something highly formal/orderly/beautiful with the intuitive/unconscious/chaotic. But then Socrates ruined everything! With guest John Castro.

Includes a preview of the Aftershow feat. Greg Sadler.

End song: “Some Act” by Mark Lint and the Fake from “So Whaddaya Think?” (2000).

Episode 119: Nietzsche on Tragedy and the Psychology of Art (Citizen Edition)

On Friedrich Nietzsche’s The Birth of Tragedy (1872), which was his first book. Nietzsche thought that you could tell how vital or decadent a civilization was by its art, and said that ancient Greek tragedy was so great because it was a perfect synthesis of something highly formal/orderly/beautiful with the intuitive/unconscious/chaotic. But then Socrates ruined everything, and it remains ruined! Can we recapture the magic? Probably not. With guest John Castro.

End song: “Some Act” by Mark Lint and the Fake from “So Whaddaya Think?” (2000)