Richard Deming: Art of the Ordinary

Buy me a coffeeBuy me a coffee
Aphorisms are interesting concepts because they don’t arrive via an argument. You don’t get syllogistically to an aphorism. An aphorism simply, but not merely, feels true. It feels right, which I think is often how poems work as well.
Listen on Google Play Music


Richard Deming discusses his book Art of the Ordinary: The Everyday Domain of Art, Film, Literature, and Philosophy with Chris Richardson. Deming is a poet, art critic, and theorist whose work explores the intersections of poetry, philosophy, and visual culture. His collection of poems, Let’s Not Call It Consequence (Shearsman, 2008), received the 2009 Norma Farber Award from the Poetry Society of America. His most recent book of poems, Day for Night, appeared in 2016. He is also the author of Listening on All Sides: Toward an Emersonian Ethics of Reading (Stanford UP, 2008), and Art of the Ordinary: The Everyday Domain of Art, Film, Literature, and Philosophy  (Cornell UP, 2018). He contributes to such magazines as Artforum, Sight & Sound, and The Boston Review. His poems have appeared in such places as Iowa Review, Field, American Letters & Commentary, and The Nation. He teaches at Yale University where he is the Director of Creative Writing.  Winner of the Berlin Prize, he was the Spring 2012 John P. Birkelund Fellow of the American Academy in Berlin.


“I’m most drawn to books that seek to extend the boundaries of what is considered philosophy or extends the possibilities of what is to be considered by philosophers. In the context of making reading recommendations, it also seems useful to suggest deep cuts rather than the most famous work by the writers I’m recommending. Carroll seems to be everywhere my mind would want to be. He writes about art, film, horror (his most famous book is very likely The Philosophy of Horror, or, Paradoxes of the Heart), and humor. This very compact yet trenchant and insightful book (published as part of the “Oxford University Press Very Short Introductions” series) presents and interrogates a variety of approaches to the cultural, moral, and epistemological values of humor.”


“This long engagement with the meditations of Marcus Aurelius and, more generally, Stoicism is a lucid and enlightening argument for seeing philosophy as not a doctrine or a body of thought but as, at its core, a set of spiritual exercises that can and perhaps should be an exploration of one’s own life as a moral being.”

What Art Is
By Arthur C. Danto

“Danto’s most important book is Transfiguration of the Commonplace, but this late work—-his last-—brings together the range of his decades of thinking about the intersection of philosophy and art in a compressed, clear way that is nevertheless provocative and generative.”


“It is difficult to say which of Cavell’s books is the most important, the most groundbreaking. This book, developed out of a semester’s worth of lectures that the philosopher delivered at the University of Chicago, allows a reader to get a full map of Cavell’s thinking about moral perfectionism, about the ways that cinema enacts epistemological and ethical realities, and about how philosophy is not merely an academic discipline but is an activity by which we can come to know our all-too-human lives.”


“Wollheim’s elegant, compelling, complex, and ambitious book is an investigation of the very process of living——a wide conception of subjectivity as an activity rather than as a static condition——which he approaches by art and aesthetics, psychoanalysis, affect, and philosophy so as to consider how the self can become visible to itself.”