Arts and Letters Daily Founder Denis Dutton Dies

The founder of one of the few bastions of uncompromising intelligent discourse on the web has died. Denis Dutton, a professor of philosophy at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand and the founder of the wonderful link site Arts and Letters Daily died in New Zealand recently at the age of 66. Dutton was LA born and the brother of Dutton’s Bookstore founders Doug and Dave.

More from the LA Times:

Dutton was at times considered a contrarian; in our opinion pages in 2004, he wrote, “[Peter] Jackson’s ‘Lord of the Rings’ represents the victory of special effects over dramatic art. … I have never looked at my watch as often during a movie as I did in “The Return of the King.” Toward the end, I found myself desperately cheering on the giant spider in hope of getting home early. Eat Frodo! Eat him!”

In February 2010, he gave a TED talk on the philosophy of art. “I try to figure out — intellectually, philosophically, psychologically — what the experience of beauty is,” he began. Though most TED (Technology Entertainment and Design) talks feature the author speaking on stage, Dutton’s video includes a collaboration with animator Andrew Park, illustrating his ideas of the hallmarks of beauty.

Dutton’s work, contrary or inspiring, encouraged a multiplicity of ideas. “It’s a grave mistake in publishing, whether you’re talking about Internet or print publication, to try to play to a limited repertoire of established reader interests,” he said in a 2000 interview with Salon.com. “A few years ago, Bill Gates was boasting that we’ll soon have sensors which will turn on the music that we like or show on the walls the paintings we like when we walk into a room. How boring! The hell with our preexisting likes; let’s expand ourselves intellectually.