Published in 2019
Helen Mort and Aaron Meskin
What happens when poetry and philosophy connect? Over coffee at Leeds’ Opposite Cafe, award-winning poet Helen Mort and Professor of Philosophical Aesthetics Aaron Meskin set out to answer that very question. They came up with an intriguing idea for a creative dialogue: Aaron would select essays from a range of philosophers who think and write about art and aesthetic matters, Helen would respond to them with an original poem, then the authors of the original papers would respond to the poems. The result is an engrossing and multi-faceted series of conversations, which (like all the best coffee-shop discussions) take a variety of unexpected turns – topics discussed include the art of tattooing, graffiti, Belle & Sebastian, food, rock climbing and whether there’s such a thing as bad art. With the project now collected in this unique, innovative publication from Valley Press, readers of poetry, philosophy, and even those new to both can join the authors for a coffee and a fascinating journey through modern thought.
Once Upon a Time is a collection of essays in the philosophy of literature with two central themes: the significance of story –telling for us and the question of whether the novel, perhaps the art form most closely associated with story-telling, is a legitimate source of human knowledge. Leading philosopher of art Peter Kivy explores why human beings are so enthralled by being told stories and whether story-telling is a significant source of knowledge. Starting with a study of Aristotle’s Poetics, Kivy then undertakes a critical discussion of Noel Carroll’s suggestion that our interaction with the artists of the past is a kind of “conversation.” He goes on to defend the thesis that one of the legitimate artistic pleasures we take in novel-reading is the acquiring of knowledge and, furthermore, that the silent reading of a novel is a kind of performance, making the novel one of the performing arts. The volume concludes with a chapter about jokes, and, in particular, whether it is immoral to tell or be amused by an “immoral” joke. This volume of essays is a must-read for anyone seriously interested in literature and the conceptual problems it may raise for philosophers.