Baseball Toaster Aesthetics Blog
Monthly archives: September 2006


Aesthetics Link Dump
2006-09-25 08:50
by Ken Arneson

Aesthetics around the world wide web:

How did language evolve? Babel's Dawn is a blog devoted to that topic. Plus, if you have an hour to spend learning about this issue, Martin Sereno presents an interesting lecture on his theory about how it all happened.

An interview with neuroscientist Nancy Andreason on the nature of creativity.

Clusters of greatness: Why are all the great composers German?

How does the brain process music?

Neuroarthistory? I didn't know you could mix Greek and Anglo-Saxon words like that.

A New Yorker intro to neuroeconomics.

Gifted dyslexic storytellers.

The psychological basis behind team sports loyalties.

David Foster Wallace describes Roger Federer as an aesthetic/religious experience.

Defending the Star-Spangled Banner
2006-09-19 17:04
by Ken Arneson

Blender has come out with their list of 50 worst things to happen to music. #3 on their list is the Star-Spangled Banner:

Here's an idea: Let's have the theme song for the world's biggest and most diverse democracy be: 1) boring; 2) violently militaristic; and 3) next to impossible to sing.

Not only that, but it has a lousy beat, and you can't dance to it.

But, there's this: I love the fact that our National Anthem, unlike most other national songs, is not a statement about our homeland, but a question.

The question is basically this: Are we still here?

Oh, say does that Star-Spangled Banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free, and the home of the brave?

I don't think you can do a better job of encapulating why America is great--why America wins--better than those two lines. These are the three pillars of a great nation:

  • Freedom: The freedom to think and act as one wishes is the very source of our ability to improve ourselves faster than any other nation on the planet.
  • Bravery: The willingness to defend that freedom
  • Questioning: Are we still free? Are we still on the right track? Do we need to change things? The willingness to be uncertain; the determination to acknowledge our flaws; and the courage to face up to and correct our mistakes--this is how a nation improves over time.

With all three traits, you get progress; take just one away, and you get stagnation or regression.

We can do worse than to remind ourselves that our nation is a question mark, not an exclamation point. Yes, the song has many faults, as does America itself. But our flawed packaging is redeemed by the small, solid piece of greatness wrapped within.

Welcome to the Aesthetics Blog!
2006-09-05 23:56
by Ken Arneson

This is a blog about aesthetics, or, the science of art.

Art is still one of the great unsolved mysteries of human behavior. Why do we like what we like? What makes a work of art good or bad? What are we doing when we create or absorb a work of art?

These are some of the questions I'll be asking and attempting to answer on this blog.