Thursday, June 14, 2018

Sur La Laideur

Easily available at, Amazon, and in bookstores.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Conference Report: WE VIIIth International Symposium

Conference Report
Taste, Bad Taste and Tastelessness
May 25 – 28, 2018, Ascea Italy

Wassard Elea, a refugium for artists and scholars, held its VIIIth International Symposium this year, dedicated to a conceptual analysis of the concept of taste. Taken as a commonsense notion, almost everyone thinks that they have taste – indeed, thinks that they have good taste – in such things as art, music, dress, design, cuisine, and so on. But can we make sense of the idea that at least some of them may also be wrong? Frank Sibley described taste as an ability involving perceptiveness, sensitivity, aesthetic discrimination, and appreciation, and further noted that taste “is a somewhat more rare capacity than other human capacities”; relativists and skeptics would dispute this, and argue that taste is little more than liking, or preferring, some things over others, and that its phenomenology is essentially private and subjective. Both positions (and those in between) involve complex epistemological, ontological and phenomenological questions, which participants were tasked to explore.

Our invitation attracted an international slate of scholars, from Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Italy, Sweden, the UK, and the United States, whose approaches to the topic were equally as diverse. Over two and a half days of intensive sessions, presentations included those arguing for a relativist conception of aesthetic taste, those suggesting that taste provides a privileged access to truth and knowledge, those who considered the moral ramifications of taste in education and cultural conflict, as well as papers that concentrated on the phenomenology and science of gustatory flavour sensations. As our remit was to move beyond rehearsals of well-trodden Kantian or Humean philosophies of taste on the one hand, and sociological studies like those of Bourdieu on the other, we were rewarded with truly innovative and contemporary works that explored the notion of taste in sometimes surprising ways. One paper argued that digital media has made the relation between form and function in design arbitrary, affecting the basic criteria for judgements of taste; another that flavour sensations are intrinsically valenced and temporal such that no two people can actually taste the same flavour in a food. While some argued that taste is indeed a capacity that can be trained, an opposing view suggested that taste is in fact the confrontation of the impossibility of discernment altogether.

Participants voiced appreciation at the particular format at Wassard Elea: longer sessions for detailed presentations of 40 minutes, with each participant also providing a 20 minute commentary on another paper, plus 30 min discussion. This arrangement encouraged an intimate and engaged atmosphere of discussion and the exchange of ideas. The organizers would like to thank all those who submitted papers, and the contributors themselves for what we hope was a fruitful and successful meeting. Papers and their commentaries are published in Wassard Elea Rivista, V, no.4, VI, nos. 1 and 2, (2018) and VI no. 3 (forthcoming). Wassard Elea Rivista is indexed in the Italian National Bibliography.

Lars Aagaard-Mogensen and Jane Forsey

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Bjørn Berge: Terre Scomparce

Il nuovo libro dell'architetto Bjørn Berge è uscito in una bellissima edizione italiana: Terre Scomparce leggerlo o ordinarla presso la vostra biblioteca!
Bjørn Berge’s new book is out in a beautiful Italian edition: Terre Scomparce, read it or get it at your library!

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Symposium: Aesthetics and Politics



Appearances of the Political, Autumn Symposium
2nd – 5th of November 2018, Marina di Ascea, Italy

In 2015 the study circle Appearances of the Political was formed in Nordic Summer University (NSU). This year it concludes its project within NSU.
The intention with this seminar is to share and exchange knowledge within the scope of the circle and also to maintain and build our network beyond NSU to establish future activities. We invite participants from the study circle along with those who have shown interest in it or, for various reasons, are thought could have an interest in it. Hence, it is not an open and widely distributed call but please share it with others you believe may have an interest.
We hope the study circle can form the basis for seminars, workshops and other activities to build relations for future applications including also funding for research.

Theme of the seminar
Both aesthetics and politics are concepts with a wide range of significances and the combination of them promises only more complications. Presentations should address how both concepts are interpreted and how the combination of them can be approached. Such approaches can relate to conceptual analyses, concrete examples, historical and contemporary cases, and to different fields of art and literature, popular culture and everyday phenomena, communication and design – to mention only a few.
The focus of the study circle is on contemporary phenomena hence historical studies should explicitly address how they add to an understanding of contemporary phenomena.
In particular we invite to a broad understanding of aesthetics to include more recent contributions e.g. in the field of atmosphere/ambiance and not to exclude either traditional understandings or experimental.
The study circle is cross-disciplinary and presentations will reflect both the diversity of participants and how different approaches can inform each other across conceptual and methodological differences. A particular attention should be given to how concepts, theories, approaches and examples can be made accessible for participants in other fields enabling the sharing of knowledge as well as forming a common platform for the study circle’s future work.

Format of the presentation
Sessions of 80 min. include a presentation of a paper (40 min), commentator (15 min) and open discussion (25 min.). We welcome free oral presentations however a full paper must be submitted timely for commentator to prepare a suitable response, as accepted participants are expected to also prepare a commentary on another presentation at the seminar.
No technical equipment will be provided.
The possibility of having presentations published will be offered in Nordicum-Mediterraneum or Wassard Elea Revista. A paper will have to be accepted by the journals’ editors independently of acceptance for presentation at the seminar.

Submit via email. Deadline, 1st of May, 2018:
  1. A written proposal of 600-1000 words in length with a title, presentation of the main idea(s), and chief considerations and arguments.
  2. A short bio (max. 100 words).
  3. Indication of interest in publication and in which journal.
Submit to:

Notification about participation will be given no later than 15th of May.
Deadline for full paper is 1st of August.

About the Circle
The study circle provides a space for theoretical experimentation and the cross-fertilization of methodologies. We invite you for exchange and debates in an open environment of people with different backgrounds on the many forms in which we experience the presences of political reality. We wish to approach it from social, artistic, aesthetic and cultural analysis and to articulate the ideological forces underlying today’s political thinking. We also want to inaugurate a debate on the role of cultural approaches in political analysis.
We aspire to break new paths in connecting the cultural humanities and the political sciences and invite participants to bravely explore new ways of studying these issues. We believe that experimentation is crucial for rethinking the political.

Cost, accommodation and location
There is no registration fee.
The seminar will take place at Albergo Elea where room will be reserved for 35€ per night (incl. breakfast) based on single occupancy unless you inform that you prefer to make your own arrangements.
Marina di Ascea is located at the coast two hours train ride south of Napoli.

Arrival: 2 November
Departure: 5 November

The seminar is organized in collaboration with Wassard Elea Refugium for writers, artists, composers, and scholars in Southern Italy

The Nordic Summer University (NSU) is a Nordic network for research and interdisciplinary studies.
NSU is a nomadic, academic institution, which organises workshop-seminars across disciplinary and national borders. Since it was established in 1950, Nordic Summer University has organised forums for cultural and intellectual debate in the Nordic and Baltic region, involving students, academics, politicians, and intellectuals from this region and beyond.
Decisions about the content and the organisational form of the NSU lay with its participants. The backbone of the activities in the NSU consists of its thematic study circles. In the study circles researchers, students and professionals from different backgrounds collaborate in scholarly investigations distributed regularly in summer and winter symposia during a three-year period.
For more information

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Margaret Leonard (of Harpswell, Maine) painted away a month at Ascea again.

 For information and offers, contact Margaret Leonard: mleonard207[at]

Saturday, March 17, 2018

New Elea museum in Ascea

An Elea museum opened in Palazzo Ricci, Via Roma, Ascea Capoluogo – a perfect advantage, even free admission!